Abstract Works Debut in Guangzhou

A collection of abstract paintings from 13 signature Chinese abstract painters is now on display at the Guangdong Museum of Art which runs through to May 7.

"It is the first time for Chinese abstract painters from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and from overseas, to hold such a collective exhibition that represents the height of abstract art of Chinese artists," said Cheng Hoi, a painter from San Francisco, the United States, who participates in the art show.

Even though ancient Chinese fine arts was sometimes imbued with a sense of abstractionism, modern Chinese painters did not begin to explore abstract art, as coined by Western artists, until the 1980s.

Established painters exhibiting their works at the show include Zao Wou-ki (Zhao Wuji) Chu Wei-bor (Zhu Weibai) and Chu Teh-chun (Zhu Dequn).

"Though most artists received Western education at a very young age, they have in their work a strong oriental impact," said Huang Huangsheng, curator of the Guangdong Museum of Art.

In consistently exploring Western art with Eastern exoticism, the artists have contributed to a wider expression of abstract art, he added.

Visitors can spot a variety of abstract schools from the pieces on exhibit.

The "Composition of Golden Radio" series by Lau Chung-hang from Hong Kong is expected to be quite a challenge for the audiences with its geometrical three blocks in red and white. "This kind of art is not intimidating while being too abstract and simple in color and composition. You do not have to learn what's behind the work; just feel the impact of it and whatever ideas you perceive," said Lau.

This may also be a good tip for enjoying the abstraction. For more than a decade, Lau has been painting in this style, featuring three blocks of colors divided by the "golden section." He aims to express the beauty of mathematics through visual art, said the artist.

Typical traits of Eastern philosophy and subtlety are felt through most of the works on exhibit.

In the work of the Transfigure, Cheng Hoi, from San Francisco, said that most of his works are inspired by China's cultural classics, such as The Book of Changes (Yijing) in their composition and use of colours.

In his new series Transfigure, Cheng picks up Chinese ink again in his acrylic on canvas and uses balanced colorings of the five traditional Chinese elements - metal, wood, water, fire and earth.

Unlike genuine Western styles featuring expanse emotion, tension and massiveness, the styles of Chinese abstract paintings tend to be more subtle and philosophical, with symbols and mythical images used in the abstract works, Cheng said.

After the Guangzhou show, the exhibition is to visit Taiwan, Macao, San Francisco, New York, Paris and then back to Beijing and Shanghai, a tour of three and a half years.

(China Daily April 19, 2002)

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