22 March - 26 March 2016
Galleries Sector 3D06, 3/F, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
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The artists Luis CHAN (CHEN Fushan 陳褔善, 1905-1995) and YEH Shih-Chiang (YE Shiqiang 葉世強, 1926-2012) can be described as two of the most challenging figures in Chinese modern art history. Although both of them were celebrated in their respective homelands of Hong Kong and Taiwan, yet neither fit neatly into prevalent art historical narratives. Luis Chan spent his entire adult life in Hong Kong, and hardly ever travelled; and Yeh Shih-Chiang lived a long reclusive life in Taiwan, where he settled in 1949 while visiting as an art student from Guangzhou.

These two enigmatic masters are challenging because of the intense singularity of their art, which have won devoted followings among connoisseurs in the inner circles of the art world. Their artistic practices highlight unresolved problems in China’s modern art historical discourse, in particular issues dealing with national culture and nationhood, and role of the artist under siege of ideologies (from either the left or the right). These two early 20th century masters took China’s modern experiment into new trajectories, and one might go as far as to claim that their artistic positions from Hong Kong and Taiwan challenge the mainstream art historical narrative of China, particularly that of the post-War era.

YEH Shih-Chiang_Portrait

Yeh Shih-Chiang (1926-2012)
Born in Guangdong province in 1926, Yeh Shih-Chiang studied at the Guangzhou College of Art, headed at that time by artist and revolutionary Gao Jianfu, who was a pioneer in the revitalization of the traditional ink painting language in the Republic era. At the age of 21, Yeh and two fellow students decided to take leave from the Academy and set out on an adventure to travel on foot from Guangdong to the Dunhuang Caves, sketching along the way. With the spread of China’s Civil War, they were forced to abort their plans and in 1949 redirected their route to Taiwan. In his first few years in Taiwan, Yeh studied fine arts at the Taiwan Provincial Teachers´ College (now National Taiwan Normal University) in Taipei, where his talent and originality as a painter was immediately recognized. However, as time passed and the political rift between Taiwan and the PRC made return to his home impossible, Yeh grew increasingly reclusive and finally shunned official art circles to seclude himself in the countryside, steeped in an ascetic mode of life and a literati sensibility.


葉世強   YEH Shih-Chiang
《一朵茉莉花》 Jasmine Flower   Undated
水墨設色紙本   Ink and colour on paper   140 x 76 cm
圖檔請注明 -“藝術家及漢雅軒提供”
Image Courtesy of the Artist and Hanart TZ Gallery


葉世強   YEH Shih-Chiang
《色不異空之一》 Form is Emptiness No. 1   Undated
油彩畫布   Oil on Canvas   43 x 33 cm
圖檔請注明 -“藝術家及漢雅軒提供”
Image Courtesy of the Artist and Hanart TZ Gallery

Every aspect of Yeh’s daily activities was informed by a conscious awareness of the ideal of inner cultivation shared by both the literati and Zen traditions. He was a maker of the ancient musical instrument the guqin, and a dedicated painter and teacher. He is especially admired for the spontaneous energy of his lines and the visionary purity of his compositions. Yet he was not a participant in any local modern art movements, instead developing his artistic persona on his own ground and attracting many disciples. Yeh has a devoted following among collectors, artists and scholars in Taiwan and is regarded as a kind of sage among painters. Yet during his lifetime Yeh desisted from bringing his works into the larger public sphere and it was considered a privilege to be able to see his works in exhibition.

Luis Chan (Chen Fushan)_Selected by Valerie

Luis Chan (1905-1995)
Luis Chan was an eccentric Hong Kong genius who, as one of the first generation of Chinese modern painters, has become legendary in the history of Chinese contemporary art. The full corpus of Luis Chan’s work in his long artistic life is breathtaking in scope. Chan was born in Panama in 1905 to Cantonese parents, and settled in Hong Kong with his family in 1910.  As a landscape painter from the late 1920s to 1960, Chan developed a lively English landscape style and used to go on painting expeditions around Hong Kong, sketching watercolours that captured the rich and varied life of the enclave. By the late 1930s Chan had become known locally as the ‘King of Watercolour’. Together with artists Lee Byng (Li Bing) and Yee Bon (Yu Ben), he was also hailed as one of the ‘Three Masters’ of Hong Kong painting.  In the 1950s, Luis Chan abandoned his orthodox style and entered a period of intense experimentation with a wide spectrum of international avant-garde styles, from Abstraction to Pop and Psychedelia.  In the late 1960s, Luis Chan underwent dramatic transformations in his visual rhetoric; inspired by the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong life, his landscape fantasies reach into the deep recesses of the subconscious collective mind of the city. This intensely idiosyncratic and creative outburst continued through the 1970s and 80s into a whole range of late paintings that are fantastic and cosmic in scope, with a wild visual logic all their own. In contrast to the quiet, interior persona of Yeh Shih-Chiang, Luis Chan was also a widely published art critic and writer, a renowned social figure and a seminal catalyst in Hong Kong’s art circle.  From his first solo debut exhibition in 1933 until his final show in 1993, Luis Chan presented 47 solo exhibitions over his long career and published countless articles on modern art.


陳福善   Luis CHAN
《端午節》 Dragon Boat Festival   1974
水墨設色紙本   Ink and colour on paper   45 x 69.5 cm
圖檔請注明 -“漢雅軒提供”
Image Courtesy of Hanart TZ Gallery


陳福善   Luis CHAN
《交通柱》 Traffic Pole  1977
水墨設色紙本   Ink and colour on paper   71 x 95.5 cm
圖檔請注明 -“漢雅軒提供”
Image Courtesy of Hanart TZ Gallery

This duo solo exhibition curated by Hanart TZ Gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 presents these two dynamic, eccentric artists in a manner that allows us entry into the interior and exterior landscapes of their worlds. Included are important examples of Yeh Shih-Chiang’s rarefied oil and ink paintings; as well as outstanding works of Luis Chan’s signature Hong Kong dreamscapes, together with startlingly powerful abstract canvases that highlight the last two decades of his life.

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