The Light of Colours by Chan Chiu Lung

27/4-3/9/2022

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Hong Kong senior painter Chan Chiu Lung was born in Guizhou in 1940. He started painting at the age of 16 and later became a professional painter. In 1982, he moved to Hong Kong and founded the studio “Yidan”, where he taught painting classes. He always makes trips with painters to paint from life and nature, using his paintbrush to illustrate models indoors, streetscape and landscape in Hong Kong, Mainland China and abroad.

This exhibition presents Chan Chiu Lung’s works in the past 17 years, featuring portraits, nudes, still life, as well as landscape that reflect the merging influence of Russian Realism and Impressionism from Europe. Filled with strength and expression, rich texture, yet also with minute details, Chan’s brushstrokes document the moments he encountered on canvas. His paintings are maps that direct viewers into his wonderland, leading one to rediscover and admire the daily scenes one may have come across.

The Light of Colours by Chan Chiu Lung

Chan Chiu Lung received his art training in mainland China and his style was strongly influenced by the realist tradition as well as the social climate at the time. He strives to paint figuratively rather than idealistically; to portray real-life as opposed to imaginary scenes.

Since moving to Hong Kong, Chan has had easy access to the world of arts, exploring new painting skills and themes. Although he was free to employ any approach, he did not develop in multiple paths. Instead, he persevered his focus on applying the impressionist technique, emphasising the use of light to render textures and depths.

Chan loves sketching and predominantly paints figurative scenes. He rarely works in the expressionist style and has no interest in abstract art. Although his paintings are not as realistic as photographs, he portrays what he observes. Always pursuing a true and natural representation, Chan does not fabricate his background with varied shades nor does he falsify any part. In the absence of artificiality, Chan’s art steers clear of romanticised and emotive content and engages his viewers through a narrative imagery.

The majority of Chan’s oil paintings are portraits with quite a few depicting Chinese ethnic females with costumes and ornaments full of colours. To reflect the richness of each unique ethnic culture, Chan applies a palette of diverse and vivid colours to paint these ladies.

Chan also likes to draw ladies in casual outfits. In contrast, restful and quiet colours are chosen to express a different kind of grace. As for Chan’s nude paintings, a simpler colour scheme is selected. He accentuates the postures of women with an interplay of shades, capturing the aesthetics of female bodies.

Whether the females portrayed in any of the above three types of portraits are dressed or not, Chan gives precedence to their eyes that project their natural aura, creating appealing artworks that bring out the spirit of the figure. It is only by doing so that the ladies in his paintings are transformed into beauties on canvas.

It appears that Chan has adopted the Chinese landscape painting tradition as he merely focuses on his main subjects while de-emphasising all other elements including the backdrop. Similar to his method of painting beauties, he utilises the effects of light and shadows in painting landscapes in order to highlight key features and bring forth the aesthetics of the sceneries. Unlike his portraits, the charm of a landscape cannot be expressed through a pair of eyes yet a landscape painting is not entirely “inanimate”. Chan employs colours to enrich the vigour of a place, bringing life to the painting, charming its viewers. Any landscape painting created by his brushwork becomes an enchanting scenery.

Originally from Guizhou, Chan is especially interested in delineating the culture of his hometown in his works and his rendition manifests the serenity of a simple life. However, over the course of his decades-long art career, he has neither engaged in painting bucolic scenes nor produced genre paintings. Rich in variety, female figures have remained his primary subject. Never does his portraiture convey criticism of a society: he simply paints the subjects he adores.

This is how Chan illustrates the adorable world of mankind in its honesty.

YEUNG Chun Tong
Director, Sun Museum

Exhibits

The Light of Colours by Chan Chiu Lung

Editor: LAM Po Ying, Esther
2022, paperback, Chinese/English, 152 pages, 20 x 26 cm
ISBN: 978-988-75933-2-4

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring 120 pieces of paintings by Chan Chiu Lung.

Price: HKD$100