Transcending the Gongbi Tradition: Contemporary Hong Kong Fine-Brush Painters brings together renowned and emerging Hong Kong contemporary gongbi artists. Their works reflect the development of contemporary gongbi painting in Hong Kong over the past 20 years and showcase gongbi’s dynamic interpretation of our city’s cultural symbols. The exhibition is also a reflection on the development of gongbi from its peak to present, how traditional aesthetics can enter the modern world, and the rejuvenation of this art form through experimentation with new subjects, presentations and artistic thinking.

Why it matters:

Thirty-one works by nine artists will be featured, including many that are being shown for the first time and some that were newly created this year. These works showcase gongbi’s dynamic interpretation of our city’s cultural symbols. The event will run from 26th April to 22nd May 2022 at The Rotunda, Exchange Square, in Central, and all visitors will enjoy free admission. A virtual exhibition will also be run in parallel.

9 Artists:

Brian Chan Kwan-lok specialises in plain outline-style gongbi painting, drawing intricate subjects line by line. He has much creative potential and is focused on depicting all walks of life. During the pandemic, Chan has enjoyed hiking in the countryside and sorting out his thoughts by experiencing the landscape. He sees microcosms of himself and society through the forests, which inspired these creations.
Sam Cheng Tan-shan excels at drawing a variety of subjects, including architecture, landscape and animals, to express the emotions she feels from her surroundings. Her works imbue neighbourhoods, ordinary homes and street shops with emotion to produce modern, humanised ink paintings. Cheng is also a designer skilled in computer applications, and viewers can easily spot traces of video game motion control elements in her paintings.
Cherie Cheuk Ka-wai contrives new forms for traditional art. Her modern flower-and-bird paintings capture ideas on life through a combination of flowers, birds and daily objects on carefully organised pictorial planes. In addition to displaying Cheuk’s mastery of bird painting, her works show the exquisite effect of layering washes on semi-translucent silk as well as her love for Hong Kong, communicated in the language of gongbi.
Eunice Cheung Wai-man is currently studying for a doctoral programme in art creation in Taipei. Over half a century of Japanese rule has left a profound Japanese influence on Taiwan’s environment as well as its artistic and cultural scenes, which has given Cheung more opportunities to engage with ukiyo-e Japanese art from the Edo period. The fresh sense of life in ukiyo-e works moves Cheung, and she has incorporated this style into her exhibits.

Barbara Choi Tak-yee excels in integrating traditional blue-green landscape painting with modern building compounds to form scenarios that embody both the old and new. Hong Kong is the subject of most of her works, which portray scenes related to her personal experiences such as old neighbourhoods, buildings and shops. These are placed within a nostalgic blue-green landscape. In the paintings, Choi creates an illusory world that approaches paradise, a perpetual memento of these people and things in a landscape hovering between fantasy and reality.
.When Sue Lai Kwan-ting first entered the art circle, she was known for her large, realistic gongbi portraits. By the time she graduated from university, she had already won a key award from the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Lai got married at a young age and has a pair of children. Alongside being a painting class tutor, Lai continues her gongbi creative work. Her large paintings shown in this exhibition realistically depict scenes of her children playing with each other by using gongbi techniques. These works show a side of her family life and the spiritual sustenance of a mother.
Jess Leung Lai-man currently lives and works in Hong Kong. She graduated with a first-class honour degree from the Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2015 and received additional training at the HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education. She uses Chinese gongbi painting to depict Hong Kong cityscapes, revealing the touch of hidden anxiety and repression embedded within hectic city life and sociocultural transformation.
Joey Leung Ka-yin has been featuring her unique, surreal gongbi figure-painting series ever since her first solo exhibition after graduating from university. After teaching and having a go at comic drawing, Leung pursued further studies and achieved new developments in her creative gongbi work upon graduation. Through the fusion of gongbi and comics, Leung has created an original series centred on maidens and surrealism. She also renders supple lines by writing brush-style with new painting tools such as needle pens.
Wilson Shieh Ka-ho uses gongbi as his main creative technique, yet his works are rooted in modern subjects. He focuses on human bodies as his major theme for narration. Transforming figuration by means of original, tailor-made costumes, he constantly explores the identity of modern people. Shieh is best known for his Architecture Series, in which Hong Kong’s most famous modern buildings are transformed into clothing worn by different characters.

Background – Gongbi:

Chinese paintings are distinguished by two main, distinctive painting styles: gongbi and xieyi. Gongbi advocates realism and brings objects to life through delicate and exquisite brushwork executed from an impartial perspective. On the other hand, xieyi focuses more on personal expression than details, depicting objects in simple, spontaneous and free brushwork. The history of traditional gongbi painting dates to Wei and Jin dynasty portraits. The art form reached the peak of its popularity during the Tang and Song dynasties, when meticulous pursuit of realism and beauty in the painting of figures, buildings and nature was all the rage. However, gongbi painting was gradually replaced by literati xieyi paintings during the Yuan and Ming dynasties.

Final Tips:

Also, to satisfy visitors’ curiosity about this delicate art form, there will be a toolbox on display showcasing the brushes, Chinese ink and pigments favoured by gongbi artists.

Transcending the Gongbi Tradition: Contemporary Hong Kong Fine-Brush Painters

2022.4.26 – 5.22
10:00 – 19:00
The Rotunda, Exchange Square, Central, Hong Kong

Courtesy to Soluna Fine Art and the artists

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