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Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong Artist Perry Dino Is Chronicling His City’s Struggle for Democracy

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Perry Dino stands beside his painting, 89 64 30, in honor of the Tiananmen 30th anniversary on June 4th, 2019.

The painter Perry Dino always dresses the same way for a protest: a black half-sleeved T-shirt, blue jeans or slacks, and sneakers. He jokes that it’s his uniform, “like Batman”—an outfit that won’t get stained by dirt, sweat, or pepper spray and that offers protection from all sorts of weather. For a recent protest in his native Hong Kong against a proposed law that would allow citizens to be extradited to mainland China for trial, he added a hat to protect himself from the sun. He also brought along the rolling suitcase he’s learned to pack just-so to fit his easel, brushes, and palette.

For particularly large protests, he works at the starting point, and the organizers of the April 28th march had called for a huge street presence. So Dino made for the city’s Causeway Bay neighborhood, arriving there an hour before the event started. Then he set up his easel and began to paint.

He spent four hours working at the scene and taking photos to use for reference later in his studio. During a break, he met up briefly with his friend, Kacey Wong, another protest artist. Wong had created a special participatory artwork for the occasion, a mobile jail where protesters could strike poses of humor or defiance. Dino, too, had his photo taken in fake prison before returning to his painting.

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