Eternal Water by Wucius Wong
Distinguished octogenarian artist Wucius Wong will stage his solo exhibition in nearly a decade at Sotheby’s S|2 gallery from Oct 18-30 in Hong Kong.
The gallery will showcase Eternal Water, a selling exhibition of over 30 works by the critically-acclaimed Hong Kong painter.
He is recognised as a trail-blazing modernist of ink painting in Hong Kong, and is also revered for his masterful synthesis of traditional Chinese aesthetics with western culture and contemporary design.
Spanning six decades of his career, the exhibition depicts water in its varying forms, all with lyrical, philosophical undertones, and a style which encapsulates landscape and geometric motifs. All works are arranged thematically by the artist and attributed to the qualities of water: movement, tranquillity, confluence, diversion and transformation.
Together, the exhibition provides a retrospective of artistic exploration and a metaphorical portrait of the artist’s cultural identity, tracing the fluidity of influence and innovation in painting philosophies.
Water – constantly seeking lower levels,
actually representing the highest virtue –
has no definite shape and can morph into many different forms,
to become springs and falls, pools and lakes,
streams and rivers, seas and oceans. - Wucius Wong
Sotheby’s Hong Kong contemporary ink art department head Katherine Don says, “Contemporary ink art is a category seen through the lens of artists inspired by or trained in ink painting, a medium that originated in China thousands of years ago and is distinguished for its use of ink, brush and calligraphic principle. For centuries, artists have departed from the bonds of tradition, pushed the boundaries of interpretation, and consistently rejuvenated a venerated art form. Wucius Wong is an outspoken leader of this charge."
Earlier this year in May, Wong received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Hong Kong Arts and Development Council.
Born in 1936 in Humen, Guangdong, Wong was raised and educated in Hong Kong. He studied traditional ink painting with Lui Shou Kwan and received a BFA and MFA in art and design from the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore.
Throughout his time abroad, he was exposed to the works of Itten, Klee, Kandinsky and Albers, which catalysed a departure from the Chinese tradition, propelling him towards an arrival at geometric landscapes and ink paintings in pure abstraction.
He continued to create landscapes that capture the monumental grandeur of Song dynasty paintings and emphasise the lighting techniques found in Western oil paintings. Wong’s works are part of prominent international collections, including the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Shanghai Art Museum, British Museum, University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, Harvard University’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Berlin Museum of Asian Art, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
Known for his influential contribution to art, he is the recipient of many important honours; Wong was awarded the Emeritus Fellowship by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 1998, received the Bronze Bauhinia Star Medal for achievement in ink painting in 2007 from the HKSAR Government, was an Asia Society Art Gala Honoree in 2015, and most recently achieved the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 2017.
Today, Wong is an adjunct professor of the Fine Arts Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, an executive member of the Chinese Painting Institute in Beijing and an honorary museum expert advisor to the Leisure and Culture Department of the Hong Kong Government.
On Oct 21 at 2pm and 3pm, there will be a discussion with the artist in English and Chinese with Katherine Don and Josh Yiu, art museum director of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.