Artist Paul Hunter Speagle’s colourful show in Hong Kong features unfiltered glimpses of his family’s life

In an age of social media, people often display their family life through a perfect, pastel-filtered lens. Not American artist Paul Hunter Speagle.

In his solo exhibition The Speagle’s, at JPS Gallery in Central’s Landmark Atrium until June 1, the artist provides a refreshingly unfiltered peek into his family’s daily life with his colourful and self-deprecating paintings.

Some works are funny, others touching, as he captures tender moments with his daughter, Opal, best seen in Dad, Can We Play Make-up, in which Speagle sits patiently while she paints his face.

In Don’t Step in My Pile he shows his T-shirt-clad wife, Ashley, sweeping the kitchen floor. The family dog, Izzy, also makes an occasional appearance.

Dad, can We Play Make-Up, by Paul Hunter Speagle, features in The Speagle’s exhibition in Hong Kong. Photo: JPS Gallery
Don’t Step In My Pile, by Speagle. Photo: JPS Gallery

One of the most impressive pieces is Let’s Make the Most of this Beautiful Day, where every bit of the huge 850.9cm x 213.36cm piece is covered in a colourful montage of his daily life, including random quotes that seem to scream from the canvas.

The works are colourful, crazy and chaotic – and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Family, he says, is everything.

“We’re a passionate bunch, often engaging in multiple conversations at once, speaking over each other yet somehow making perfect sense of it all,” says Speagle.

“Family has taught me how to look into the future and prepare, and to live in the now.

“It has taught me compassion, love, caring, sympathy, patience and humility […] I’ve learned the importance of tradition and instilling that into my family. I learned how important it is to show my daughter to go for your dreams.”

Don’t Spill this in the Car, by Paul Hunter Speagle. Photo: JPS Gallery
Will Only be at the Studio for a few Minutes Mom’s Gonna Help Me Stretch the Canvas, by Paul Hunter Speagle. Photo: JPS Gallery

Creating the deeply personal works has been cathartic. “This process serves as a form of therapy, guiding us towards growth and understanding,” he says. “The paintings have become catalysts for positive change, enriching our lives and strengthening our bonds as a family.”

Speagle has been painting since he was young, his works influenced by underground skateboarding, street and comic culture. He lives “in the charming foothills of a small mountain town [Hickory] nestled in North Carolina”.

It might sound like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting but he keeps it real and raw about the pressures on families to appear perfect.

“In my town, unless you drive an Escalade [luxury SUV] or a fancy car, live in a big house and join a country club, you’re treated a bit differently […] Which is sad,” he says.

Let’s Make the Most of this Beautiful Day, by Paul Hunter Speagle, measures 850.9cm x 213.36cm. Photo: JPS Gallery
Friday Night at the Dairy Queen getting ice-cream, by Paul Hunter Speagle. Photo: JPS Gallery

“This is why I made a deliberate decision to depict more than just the glossy, happy moments often showcased on social media.”

He felt compelled to portray the rawness of real life – the highs and lows and the beauty and imperfections of navigating relationships and family dynamics.

“In a world where public personas are meticulously curated online, there’s immense pressure to conform to an idealised image of perfection,” he says.

“Social media always glorifies the beauty of life, but that is not what connects us. It is all the mundane things that we live day to day with our families, from the arguments to the crying to the laughter to the fights to the love we share.

“These are what make up a true reality. That is what life is.”

“The Speagle’s” JPS Gallery, shops 218-219, 2/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, tel: 2682 6216. Until June 1


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