After making history two years ago by becoming the first Chinese illustrator authorised by the licensor of Le Petit Prince, award-winning Hong Kong artist Steven Choi returned this summer, launching a series of illustration books featuring renowned British children’s book Mr. Men Little Miss, which was an immediate success at the Hong Kong Book Fair. Following the success of its previous exhibition Le Petit Prince – Le Havre, Whateversmiles Gallery by Medialink Group will present another solo exhibition by Steven Choi, namely Time for a LITTLE hug, featuring Mr. Men Little Miss x Little White, a central figure in Choi’s illustration books. Taking place from 29 September to 23 October at Gallery by the Harbour at Harbour City, the exhibition will showcase more than 20 playful and heart-warming artworks that illustrate Little White’s encounters with various characters from the Mr. Men Little Miss series along his self-discovery journey, and depict how he becomes soulmates with his new friends and finds comfort despite his tragic past, encouraging viewers to embrace their imperfections and see the brighter side of life whatever circumstances may bring, just like the jolly Mr. Men Little Miss characters.
“The meaning of life is not confined to how wonderful you live. Trivial things can also be the best part of life. Discovering your imperfection is the way you learn to embrace yourself.”
When Little White meets Mr. Men Little Miss – a healing journey
A winner of both WIA (World Illustration Awards) and JIA (Japan Illustrator’s Association) Illustration Award, Choi collaborated with Mr. Men Little Miss after the success of Le Petit Prince to create his latest illustration book series, Time for a LITTLE hug, which features a crossover between the British characters and his original creation, Little White. Originally a character in Choi’s illustration books, Little White is the only one of its kind who was born in the enchanted forest alone without a twin, an incomplete, drifting soul destined to be an outcast. Nevertheless, being small and powerless did not take away from Little White’s optimism and innocence. Believing firmly that he has a family somewhere, he sets out on a journey to all corners of the world to find his soulmate.
On the other hand, Mr. Men Little Miss were created by British author Roger Hargreaves in 1971 and continued to appear in books created by his son Adam Hargreaves after his father’s death in 1988. Mr. Men Little Miss have captured the hearts of a multigenerational audience through self-expression, colour, simplicity and humour. In this exhibition, Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Bump, Mr. Snow, Mr. Tickle, Little Miss Hug, Little Miss Lucky, Little Miss Curious and Little Miss Sparkle, among others, join Little White in a series of heart-warming encounters that help him accept and embrace his imperfections.
“We have all been hurt at some point, nobody is perfect. Everything is perfect if you learn to let go. There is beauty even in imperfection.”
Time for a LITTLE hug – Little Potted Plants
Stories of embraces
Apart from works from the Time for a LITTLE hug series, the exhibition also features works centred on the theme of embrace that will be presented in public for the first time. Deeply aware of the emotional turmoil experienced by people around the world in recent years, Choi hopes his creation Little White could be a comforting presence that journeys through the ups and downs alongside all of us. The works are imbued with meaningful details and symbolisms, which highlight the complexity and depth of the characters and allow the viewers to see themselves in these characters.
In the title piece ‘Missing You’, Choi’s distinct style is manifested in the vivid and refined colours and composition, which convey an ethereal and mysterious sense of solitude. Against a backdrop of blooming flowers and a rising sun, Little White, who longs for spiritual bonding, and Mr. Grumpy are engaged in a gentle embrace that heals the inner child in each of them. The sunflower—a symbol of happiness, optimism, loyalty and devotion—pinned on Mr. Grumpy’s hat by Little White brings a sense of rejuvenation and healing to the work. The poetic nature of Choi’s creations has become a recognisable signature of the artist and contributed to his international success. Choi’s works have been exhibited at renowned institutions such as the Louvre, Tate Modern and the Centre Pompidou.
A wide range of exhibition-exclusive collectibles are specially created to allow viewers to take home souvenirs of the experience. In addition to Time for a LITTLE hug series illustration books, there are limited-edition items such as original drawings, the first-ever Mr. Men Little Miss licensed Steven Choi album, art prints, blind box toys, as well as tees and pins. Apart from the 50cm Little White figure, life-size wall art at the exhibition also makes for Instagrammable selfie backdrops to help visitors share the experience with their social network.
Throughout the duration of the exhibition, visitors will find an extension of Little White’s world of healing at Cupping Room on 3/F of the mall, where limited edition Mr. Men Little Miss x Little White special drinks and cookies will be served.
Time for a LITTLE hug—A Solo Exhibition by Steven Choi
Date: 29 September – 23 October 2022
Opening Hours: 11 am – 8 pm
Venue: Gallery by the Harbour (Shop 207, Level 2, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui)
About Steven Choi
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Steven is the first Chinese person to become Champion at the WIA and to receive the JIA Illustration Award. Choi’s award-winning illustrations featured in a touring exhibition across the UK, starting from Somerset House in London. His works have been exhibited at prestigious art institutions such as Tate Modern, the Louvre Museum and the Centre Pompidou. Choi is also the first Chinese artist to collaborate with major Japanese toy and figurine manufacturer, Kaiyodo. Shuichi Miyawaki, president of Kaiyodo, have complimented Choi on his distinct style, vivid and refined colours and composition, ethereal and mysterious sense of solitude as well as meditative serenity and poetry that have become signature of his work.