Chairman of Artspace K, Ms K.C. Chen feels that the coronavirus pandemic in the past few years has cast a shadow of anxiety over Hong Kong. She hopes that this exhibition will convey a renewed sense of peace and calm in the city. Shares the artist, Wong Hau Kwei on his works, “It doesn't matter if you use avant-garde, traditional or western style; the most important thing is to convey the timely significance of the era.”
Landscape painting plays an influential role in traditional Chinese ink art history. In the 60s, many artists moved to Hong Kong from mainland China, including the traditional style, Lingnan style and diverse traditional Chinese paintings. The Chinese painting masters performed artistic creations in Hong Kong and taught in art studios as well as schools. They built a solid foundation for Hong Kong ink art, cultivated Chinese ink artists and started the “New Ink Painting Movement”. Taking Hong Kong as the theme of creation and sketching, these artworks showcased the Chinese traditional freehand technique blended with the style of western sketching and watercolor. With the integration of western modern art concepts, the works present diverse ideas and creative techniques, allowing the artists to emerge as a new force in the art world and create a different style of modern ink art for this place. The art of ink painting in Hong Kong is constantly evolving. In the 21st century, from the rise of new ink painting, we have seen the innovation and sublimation of oriental art, with contemporary ink painting becoming more abundant and varied.
Curator of "Serenity • Hong Kong" exhibition, Lee Yu-Han notes that in the contemporary ink art evolution, Wong Hau Kwei’s paintings stand out from the crowd. His style is developed from traditional ink and wash techniques, but also contains modern aesthetics and forms. His creations are not restricted by any faction of art. He developed his own painting style gradually. Combining traditional artistic expression of ink with contemporary art, Wong is an iconic and significant figure of contemporary ink wash painting in the history of ink art in Hong Kong. Wong masters the skills of accentuating contrast between black and white, emptiness and fullness in the expression of light and color. He uses traditional ink art as the foundation and maximizes the ink rendering technique to establish a unique style in ink wash painting. For the composition, his paintings feature patterns of vertical narrow stripes and wide angled scenes in a rigorous way. Also, the ink wash under his brush emphasizes the sense of strength. States Wong: “Modern ink painting has evolved from a movement into a concept, which is to innovate continuously based on Chinese painting traditions and promote the continuous development of ink painting art. Never abandon tradition, and never give up reforming.”
The modern metropolis of Hong Kong, surrounded by its natural landscapes, brings boundless subject themes for Wong. He can always find the unique charm of the city in a different landscape, both the beautiful scenery of the suburbs and the urban areas with skyscrapers are captured under his brush. “SERENITY · HONG KONG” presents Wong Hau Kwei’s contemporary Chinese ink paintings in which he outlines the features of the times as Hong Kong has experienced countless ups and downs.
Wong applies the characteristics of ink and washes in his own way. He creates a large area of thick ink and blanks to express the beauty of emptiness and at the same time drawing out the details of the landscape in a meticulous way. The relationship between blankness and actuality creates the aftertaste for the viewers, while the expression of fullness and emptiness increases the layering and richness of the work, highlighting the atmosphere presented by the landscape. The serenity and delicacy, ethereal and vast, leave a boundless space for viewers to feel and imagine.
Good Morning Hong Kong depicting the morning light reflected by the skyscrapers in full layout shows the expression of rich and profound artistic conception with thick black ink. The color gold is rendered to create golden sunlight. Rustic and dazzling are in sharp contrast here, creating a sense of fluidity in the stillness of the rising sun as if the artist looks forward to the dawn after darkness. It also reflects the yearning for light. “Lion Rock” portrays mist looming beneath the majestic Lion Rock, with the emptiness in this artwork bringing out the Eastern philosophy “form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form” and leaves a large space for imagination and reflection.
The development of modern ink painting in Hong Kong is ever-changing. During the exhibition period from 21st July to 23rd October, Artspace K will hold related events to inspire the public's love for Hong Kong contemporary ink art and develop knowledge on art appreciation and collection.