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Hong Kong Renowned Oil Painters in the Diverse World

19/01/2017 - 11/3/2017


Installation art is increasingly popular throughout the art world and ink painting dominates the art scene in Hong Kong. However, oil painting has never been toppled. The upcoming exhibition features 40 oil paintings by 10 artists who are the forerunners of oil painting in Hong Kong. All aged above 70, these artists include Chu Ying Tung, Lin Ming Chen, Tsui Chee Kui Joseph, Chan Siu Min, Chan Chiu Lung, Wong Pui Kong, Au Yeung Nai Chim, Shaw Tze, Chung Yiu and Kwong Ko Wah. Despite their different artistic styles, their paintings interestingly depict a world full of colours and wonders, reflecting the experience of life of the old generation.

Message from director

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in the nineteenth century, Shanghai and Guangzhou were the only place in China to study oil painting. As the port for China’ s export in the early days, Guangzhou was popular among foreign visitors. They took home as presents Chinese products which included oil paintings of Chinese scenery and people. Oil paintings for export became the livelihood of Guangzhou artists. In Shanghai, the French Jesuits established the Tou-Se-We Orphanage (L’ Orphelinat de T’ou-sè-wè) during the Tongzhi reign (1862-1874). The orphanage set up a painting workshop that taught oil painting techniques to paint holy icons.

Having studied under foreign teachers, artists in Guangzhou made oil paintings primarily for export while oil paintings in Shanghai were created and used exclusively by the church. These works brought a new visual experience but were not favoured by the Qing literati who preferred the poetic world in Chinese landscape painting to the heightened realistic depiction in oil painting.

Circumstances changed entering the twentieth century. As western art became the trend, Chinese artists started to make oil painting that was now venerated in the same way as ink painting. Both types of painting have their own characteristics. The predominant element in oil painting is colour while line is the foundation of ink painting. Moreover, oil painting depicts subject matter realistically, whereas ink painting captures the essence of the portrayed.

Ink painters form the core of the art scene in Hong Kong. For the last half-century, they have innovated traditional Chinese painting, concentrating on ink techniques, and made notable achievements. In comparison, Hong Kong has less robust development in oil painting. Despite the centre stage now taken by installation art, oil painting has never been toppled. This medium of art is no longer loaded with western culture. Artists around the world deploy oil paint to express their individuality and create wonderful artworks. For this reason, oil painting should be promoted in Hong Kong.

The Museum has invited ten artists to participate in this unique exhibition. They are the forerunners of oil painting in Hong Kong, all aged seventy and above.

Each of the ten artists has developed a distinctive style. Albeit the light and shadow portrayed through oil paints, their works exude the flavour of Chinese literati painting. For example, Chu Ying Tung paints poetry; Lin Ming Chen captures the spirit; Tsui Chee Kui Joseph renders ink effect with oil paint; Chan Siu Min moulds harmony; Chan Chiu Lung vividly presents the spatial separations of major and minor subjects; Wong Pui Kong demonstrates fluent strokes; Au Yeung Nai Chim depicts the extraordinary out of the ordinary; Shaw Tze paints from his heart; Chung Yiu creates landscapes of fantasy; and Kwong Ko Wah aspires the wonders of nature. The worlds presented in their works are enchanting and reflect the interflow of East and West in Hong Kong culture.

Oil paintings by Hong Kong artists are unquestionably outstanding. The Museum expresses her deepest gratitude and highest respect to these ten artists.

YEUNG Chun Tong


Exhibition Catalogue

Hong Kong Renowned Oil Painters in the Diverse World
Editor: Rachel LEUNG
2017, paperback, Chinese/English, 56 pages, 23.5 x 31 cm
ISBN: 978-988-14155-8-5

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring 40 oil paintings by 10 artists who are the forerunners of oil painting in Hong Kong, such as Chu Ying Tung, Lin Ming Chen, Tsui Chee Kui Joseph and Chan Siu Min.

Price: HKD$80

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