In 1978, Wucius Wong painted his first Chinese landscape featuring a prominent geometric grid in Cloudy Harmony No.1. In a fragmented composition, each grid featured a Song dynasty inspired landscape that either joined or detached from the next grid. The dichotomy of continuity and disruption would ultimately define Wong's signature style and cement his legacy as a pioneer in the modern art movement in Hong Kong. Wong's arts were thoughtful, complex and poetic at core. They addressed important questions of tradition, modernity and identity amidst the turbulent era of colonial Hong Kong.
Four decades on Hong Kong finds a young painter, a protégé of Wucius Wong, who paints with parallel conviction and technical capacity. In his first one-man exhibition in 2015, Yau Wing-fung demonstrated not only exceptional range and repertoire but an uncanny maturity in understanding contemporary art. Yau's landscape paintings amazed audience by their sheer force, dexterity and avant-garde visions. Particularly his rock formations, as I called them isomorphism, merged human virtues with nature in a connection that few contemporary artists would dare to make. This is not to say that Yau paints landscapes that are uninformed of tradition. From an art historian's perspective, one of the most admirable features of Yau's works is their display of erudition. Yau's method easily shifts from philosophy to history to technique, citing along the way such famous classical references as Mi Fu (1052-1107), Guo Xi (11th C), Su Shi (1037-1101), Liu Xie (465-520), Zhang Yanyuan (9th C), Laozi, Wang Yuanqi (1642-1715), and a host of others. Yau's painting brings forth the dichotomy of yin and yang, bone structure, dragon veins, configural force (shi), principles of opening and closing (kaihe), rising and falling (qifu), and other aesthetic concepts drawn from traditional writings on philosophy, art and literature.
The present exhibition is a focused attempt to address a specific theme – the harmony and contradiction between technology and nature. The presence of the geometric grid is more prominent. It dissects the composition in an absolute manner that each cell appears to be independent. The grids here resemble flat-screen electronic devices that can change its content or screen with a touch. Aligning them together thus forms a fragmented scenery of separate visuality. However, through the edges of the rocks and particularly the fleeting clouds, the artist tries to form certain connections and create coherence. Yau's effort is a conscious attempt to mend the broken landscape, or more precisely our visions of the broken world. When rocks and clouds disappear and reappear laterally and transversely, our anticipation is hampered by such randomness and surprises. Yau's series Airy Mountains, Transitional Scenes and Boundless Mountains challenge our anticipation by constantly changing direction, flow and texture.
If Wucius Wong's painting is a manifestation of tradition and modernity, East and West, Yau Wing-fung's art is a tug of war between high tech culture and our natural surroundings. Both the mentor and the student sought transcendental value through geometry and hard-edge. They faced different struggles and challenges between their respective historical and cultural polarities. They found common ground and answers, as their art indicates, in the awe-inspiring Chinese landscape - the ultimate refuge.
About The Artist:
Yau Wing Fung (b. 1990 in Hong Kong) received his Master's degree in Fine Arts and Bachelor degree in Fine Arts (First Class Honours) from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, also received the art training from Beijing Fine Art Academy. Yau concentrates on "ink" creations and focuses on researching spatial aesthetics of landscape painting and the transition of ink spirit in current situation. Yau held some solo exhibitions in recent years such as "Looming Sceneries", "Transition Scene", "Inconstant Vision", "Roaming Vision in Mirage". His artworks have also been exhibited in different countries, including "Art Basel"(Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre), "Wu Bin: Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone" (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), "Chinese Contemporary Ink" (Christie's Auction), "Ink Asia" (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre), "Art Taipei" (Taipei World Trade Center) and so on. His artworks have been garnered by Los Angeles County Museum of Art, public organizations and private collections.