Kaleidoscope of Memories:
Contemporary Oil Paintings by Hong Kong Artists
6/11/2015 - 9/1/2016
The exhibition features 40 oil paintings by 10 local preeminent artists in Hong Kong. The artists, such as Lam Man Kong, Chan Chiu Lung and Shen Ping, are members of the Hong Kong Oil Painting Research Society. Most of them have received formal training in art institutions and some even went abroad to further their studies in Paris. While two of the artists have probed into abstraction, the rest paint in a more realistic style.
The artists were mostly born in 1940s and 1950s. They painted on canvas scenes and features unique to Hong Kong. Some of the scenes still exist while some are disappearing, some vanished. Revisiting the past and present pictured in a realistic or abstract style, the exhibition provides an opportunity to retrieve memories and prompts viewers to treasure both existent and disappearing scenes of the city.
Message from director
Oil painting is one form of Western art that has profound impact worldwide. Artists use oil paints to picture realistic images comparable to photographs. Chinese artists also value realistic representations and believe that life drawing is essential to depict life-like and real forms. Unfortunately they cannot reproduce exact scenes using the Chinese ink-and-colour painting approach.
Chinese artists with overseas experience in Europe have generally undergone training in oil painting. Upon return to China, they promoted this art form throughout the country. With the interplay of light and shade and the three-dimensional perspective, an oil painting entices viewers of different social classes with its heightened realistic depiction of space. While the realistic style readily appeals to viewers, artists find the techniques of oil painting uneasy to master. Hence artists tended to focus on reforming traditional Chinese paintings and their breakthroughs were limited to ink paintings.
However, when it comes to propaganda and education, oil painting is likely to be the most effective form of art for it can present any theme vividly. Palaces and churches in Europe were extensively adorned with oil paintings that used to display achievements of the monarchy and preach religious teachings. The Chinese government was also keen to nurture oil painting artists who could then assist in promoting political themes through their works. Today, photography is common. People cease to depend on oil paintings for reproducing realistic visual experience. Similar to other forms of art, oil painting evolves with time, moving from the traditional emphasis on presenting objective reality to a more subjective reality and finally to abstraction. The evolution actually revitalises the gradually obsolescent oil painting, allowing artists to use oil paints to depict their own visual experience and view. Participating oil painting artists of this exhibition are preeminent in Hong Kong. What they have seen and painted may have disappeared or have been forgotten. Their works may not be wholly realistic or entirely abstract. But they all convey what the artists perceive and pursue and prompt viewers to review and treasure scenes of the past and present. Oil painting has certain advantages over other forms of art. For example, oil paints tend to be thicker hence better portray texture. Colours of the oil paints correspond closely to those in real life and thus, evoke greater resonance in viewers. It is hoped that this traditional form of art will live on and blossom in Hong Kong.
I am grateful to Hong Kong Oil Painting Research Society and the ten outstanding artists for the exhibition of such splendour and educational significance to be held at the Sun Museum.
YEUNG Chun Tong
Editor: YEUNG Chun Tong
2015, hardcover, Chinese/English, 116 pages, 23 x 31 cm
A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring 41 oil paintings by 10 Hong Kong preeminent artists including CHAN Chiu Lung, LIN Ming Chen, SHEN Ping and LAM Ming Kong.