Paintings of Macao
TEXT Louse Do Rosário
Inspired by movie posters, local artist becomes famous painter
Lio is one of the city’s most renowned painters. A member of the Macau Artist Society, he has designed award‑winning postage stamps and shown his work in numerous exhibitions in Macao, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Private collectors in China and Japan own some of his work. “For the last 10 years, I have made a living simply from my paintings. I have achieved the purpose of my life,” he said in an interview. “When I was a child, there was no such person as a professional artist in Macao.”
To Lio’s delight, his son Hak‑man has followed in his footsteps to become a painter in his own right. “I put no pressure on him. He chose this because he liked it.” Like his father before him, Hak‑man gives classes in painting in addition to working on his own compositions.
From early life to present-day success
Lio comes from a modest family. In his youth, Lio’s father migrated to Peru in search of a better life. He stayed for more than 10 years, but his small business did not prosper, so he returned to his native home in Zhuhai to marry. The couple had eight children; Man Cheong was born in 1951.
In the 1960s, when he was about 10 years old, the family moved to Macao. “The city was very backwards then, completely different than today. My father did odd jobs, like a security guard. My mother was a farmer in Zhuhai. It was a hard life.”
On his way to school, Lio would walk past the Yung Lok Cinema and was drawn to the movie posters advertising films. He was further inspired and encouraged by his primary school art teacher and developed a great interest in painting advertisements. After graduation, he studied painting part‑time at night school and quite by accident got the opportunity to paint publicity posters at a cinema.
The Victoria Cinema in Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, now a branch of the Tai Fung Bank, was Lio’s main client. He worked in this field for 10 years, creating paintings and publicity materials for new films, including American and European movies in addition to films from the mainland and Hong Kong. He greatly admired the legendary Bruce Lee and applied extra energy into images for his films. But in the early 1990s, the cinemas closed one after another, bringing about the end to this profession.
Luckily, Lio also designed posters for Chinese products and street advertisements in addition to teaching art. In the mid‑1980s, he set up an advertisement company with close friends. By the 1990s, he had become head of his own private company and has since devoted himself full‑time to composition in his studio in Sai Wan.
His new‑found freedom has given him the opportunity to travel widely, including to such international destinations as Russia, Europe, Brazil, India, Cambodia, Taiwan and many parts of mainland China. Wherever he goes, he takes his paints and finds new images and inspiration. “My father always supported me in my work. He liked cultural things and was happy that I was working in this field,” Lio reminisces.
Postage stamp fame
In 1991, Lio began designing stamps for Macao Post: “Gods of Chinese Mythology” and “Temples of Macao” were two of his limited editions. Since then, he has designed more than 30 issues.
In August 2012, Macao Post issued his design of “The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid”. It won ninth place in the 2012 Grand Prix de L’Exposition WIPA for “Most Beautiful Stamp” at the Vienna International Philatelic Exhibition.
A full-time artist with international chops
Since the 1970s, Lio has regularly taken part in fine‑art activities and collective exhibitions organised by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau and the Macau Artist Society. He held his first solo exhibition in 1998 and has since continued to show his work.
He has also participated in the Watercolour Paintings Exhibitions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and in joint exhibitions in Japan, Canada, Portugal and Hong Kong.
August and September 2015, the Pavilion of the Lou Lim Ieoc Garden hosted a retrospective of 32 of his works to celebrate his winning the Best Creation Special Prize of the 30th Collective Exhibition of Macao Artists.oo