Koon Wai Bong: Shén Yóu

2019 19×29.2cm 102pages USD25

This is the catalogue of Koon Wai Bong’s solo exhibition in Beijing, titled “Shén Yóu”, organized by Asia Art Center. This exhibition is aimed at exploring ‘spirit travelling’, refers to teleporting from reality to mindscape, in which an ineffable connection with nature is built.  Thus, each landscape motif is intended to reveal the understanding of nature and his feelings towards the scenic sites he has visited. Through the process of painting, his intention is not simply to construct what he has seen, but to deconstruct the scenes in his head and reconstruct a ‘mental landscape’ based on what he felt during his travels and what he imagined afterwards. That’s why Koon’s paintings can be perceived as an artistic means of transmitting emotion from the innermost part of his mind, and as a portal through which you can enter his spiritual reality and travel with his imaginatively.

As a Hong Kong-based artist, like those living in Beijing, Shanghai or Taiwan, Koon derives the essence of Chinese culture from his family, education, community and society. However, other cultural elements such as trends in contemporary art and Japanese aesthetics are also of paramount importance in the formation of his artistic thoughts. In his painting, the calligraphic expression of brushwork and the manifold layering of ink washing or colour tinting drive him to travel to ancient times and open a dialogue with the early masters. Nevertheless, he is concurrently conscious of a sense of contemporaneity and relish coming back to the present time, often by fragmenting his painting into multiple smaller panels. Modern people have become used to visualising their travel experience by taking pictures with smartphones or digital cameras, viewing scenery on the Internet when they prepare for a trip, or seeing landscapes through a window or a glass curtain wall in a modern city. The picture frames on screens or the architectural grids of a building inevitably offer a rather narrow and partial view of nature.Thus, the polyptych shattering a panorama into multiple visual fragments is not only an idiosyncrasy of his painting, but also an analogue of today’s visual experience.

The author of the preface, Alan Lee, is the Managing Director, Asia Art Center.

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