Alisan Fine Arts presents “Desiring: Post 97 Hong Kong Ink Art” an exhibition to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This show explores the evolution of local ink art pre and post 1997. Showcasing the ink works of ten local artists of different generations and styles, the exhibition traces the footprint of Hong Kong’s ink art reformation.
Established in 1981, Alisan Fine Arts celebrated its 35th anniversary last year. As one of the first professionally run galleries in Hong Kong, Alisan is in the perfect position to examine and explore the development and changes in ink art in Hong Kong pre and post 1997. Twenty years ago, to celebrate Hong Kong’s handover to China, Alisan Fine Arts together with the Shanghai Art Museum, organized the exhibition “The Chinese Roots.” While that exhibition brought together over fifty Chinese artists from the Mainland, Hong Kong and Overseas to showcase the best of Chinese Contemporary art, this exhibition twenty years later focuses solely on Hong Kong artists and the importance they played in the development of contemporary ink art.
In an advantageous position, Hong Kong has always been a place where East and West converge, as well as where tradition and modernity intermingle. It is here that Lui Shou-kwan and fellow students started promoting a new form of ink art in the 60s and 70s, incorporating Western abstract art, design skills and concepts, they set off a revolution to abandon the traditional ink bush technique. Together they launched the New Ink Painting Movement and nurtured a number of outstanding modern ink artists, forming an important platform in the evolution of ink painting and in the overall map of Asian art. Since the beginning, Alisan Fine Arts has been an important promoter of this New Ink Painting Movement.
After 1997, Hong Kong has gone even further in the development of ink art. Influenced by native consciousness and commercial factors, a new era of contemporary ink art with distinct features has unfolded. As contemporary art focuses more on concept and innovation; new generations are utilizing various Medias, technology and life material in application, so the possibilities of ink art has become infinite. Moreover, Hong Kong ink art is gradually detaching itself from the traditional literati style that is seeped with Confucius, Taoist and Buddhist spiritualism, instead it is infusing more elements of urban life and modern social community, thus creating a unique local artistic language.
Curator Eric Leung states that young artists trained by art institutes not only have the traditional ink painting techniques, but also the ability of conceptual expressions. Influenced by comics and digital culture, they create outstanding works hugely favoured by collectors. With distinct differences from the pre-1997 work which borrowed the Western aesthetic style in expressing Eastern ideas, these post-1997 college new bloods whimsically convey their contemporary notion in a classical style.
Daphne King, Director of Alisan Fine Arts joined her mother, Alice King founder of the gallery in 1996, and has been able to experience first hand the changes in contemporary ink art since the handover. She observes, that although the market once slowed down due to the post-1997 financial crisis and migration issues, auction houses are now aggressively promoting contemporary ink art. The status of new ink predecessors such as Lui Shou-kwan is well established and the prices of his works have achieved new heights. The current ink art scene in Hong Kong is blooming and is adhering to the spirit of exploration like the Chinese idiom says "to have the desire to see a thousand miles" while pushing us to "reach new heights."
The exhibiting artists include Fang Zhaoling and TC Lai, who took reference from Western painting style; Lui Shou-kwan and Wucius Wong, pioneers of New Ink Painting Movement; Man Fung-yi and Kum Chi-keung, who demonstrate new media appropriation; Cheuk Ka-wai, Cherie, Ho Kwun-ting, Hui Hoi-kiu and Zhang Xiaoli, college representatives of neo-classical ink art with a fresh touch. Their ink works contain a blend of subtle and delicate oriental charm as well as the power of captivating occidental visualization, often expressed in an introspective stance or jocular criticism, composing the scene of post-1997 Hong Kong contemporary ink art.