In­deli­ble In­flu­ence

An in­trigu­ing new ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brates the en­dur­ing im­pact of sem­i­nal Hong Kong artist Lui Shou-kwan, writes Rik Glauert

Hong Kong Tatler - - Art -

t’s four decades since Hong Kong mourned the death of the master cred­ited with rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the an­cient Chi­nese art of ink paint­ing and de­vel­op­ing a genre unique to the city. Lui Shou-kwan’s legacy is cel­e­brated this month in an ex­hi­bi­tion by Alisan Fine Arts that analy­ses the artist’s evo­lu­tion and en­dur­ing in­flu­ence by jux­ta­pos­ing his mas­ter­pieces with works by his pro­tégés and emerg­ing artists of to­day.

“Lui Shou-kwan con­trib­uted tremen­dously to Hong Kong’s art scene and cul­ture,” says Daphne King-yao, the di­rec­tor of Alisan Fine Arts, founded in 1981 by her mother, vet­eran cu­ra­tor Alice King. The women have long col­lected and ex­hib­ited Lui’s work, ap­pre­ci­at­ing his pi­o­neer­ing ex­pres­sive style fus­ing Eastern and Western aes­thet­ics. “He cre­ated an artis­tic iden­tity for Hong Kong and, in do­ing so, laid the foun­da­tions for the rich cul­tural life that the city en­joys to­day.”

The new ex­hi­bi­tion, A Legacy of Ink: Lui Shou-kwan 40 Years On, which is be­ing staged at the Hong Kong Arts Cen­tre, show­cases some of the pain­ter’s most revered pieces along­side works by prom­i­nent lo­cal artists of to­day, such as Wu­cius Wong, Le­ung Kui-ting and Kan Tai-ke­ung, and promis­ing younger artists and stu­dents. In pre­sent­ing Lui’s paint­ings with the work of those he taught and inspired, the mother-daugh­ter team aim to il­lu­mi­nate Lui’s en­dur­ing im­pact on the city’s artis­tic com­mu­nity.

The story of one of Hong Kong’s most im­por­tant artists be­gan in Guangzhou with the birth of Lui in 1919. The young Lui came to ma­tu­rity amid the dev­as­ta­tion of World War II and took refuge from the hor­rors of the time in art. Inspired by his scholar-artist fa­ther, he stud­ied the fa­mous Chi­nese ink pain­ters, in­clud­ing Bada Shan­ren (1626-1705), Shi­tao (1642-1707) and Huang Bin­hong (18651955). He be­gan repli­cat­ing their line and form, cre­at­ing the clas­sic, stylised land­scapes of moun­tains and rivers.

In 1948, Lui joined the flood of Chi­nese flee­ing the revo­lu­tion to the safety of Hong Kong. Back on the main­land, as the com­mu­nists forced art into the ser­vice of na­tional ideals, there was no room to al­ter, adapt or progress ink paint­ing. But in the Bri­tish colony, Lui was free to de­velop his own style. By day he worked as an in­spec­tor at Yau­mati Ferry Com­pany to sup­port him­self, but his free time was spent de­pict­ing the land­scape of his new home with ink and brush.

Lui Shou-kwan,

(1962)

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