Untitled, 1963
Untitled, 1963
Untitled, 1963
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To the uninitiated, traditional Chinese ink paintings may all look remarkably similar

The exhibition Hong Kong Experience – Hong Kong Experiment, at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, brings together an eclectic mix that highlights the changing art scene and showcases local creative talent.

Chinese ink painting emerged during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). At that time, they were painted on silk (until the invention of paper in the first century), using animal hairbrush pens and black ink made from pine soot and animal glue.

Because paper absorbs ink quickly, marks had to be applied quickly and spontaneously. Artists would invest years learning the subtleties of making confident lines and strokes.

Over the decades before and after the two World Wars, eastern and western art influenced this Chinese art form. Ink painting flourished in Hong Kong, and the evolution of artistic styles and methods is represented by many fine examples in the exhibition.

Hon Chi-Fun (1922-2019) grew up in Pok Fu Lam and learned Chinese and traditional calligraphy under a Confucian master and English teacher from the Catholic Wah Yan Boy’s School. After World War II, he taught himself to paint. In the 1950s and ’60s, he invested every spare moment creating landscapes and portraits. The 1960s were turbulent times, and the Cultural Revolution, riots in Hong Kong, the Beatles and pop art all convinced him to change from realism to abstract art. In 1963, Hon co-founded the Circle Art Group, a pioneering modernist art group in Hong Kong.

Text Martin Wray / Photos Cammy Yiu