Photo Gallery: a changing Hong Kong in the paintings of Luis Chan

Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong holds double exhibition of paintings by Luis Chan.

Throughout his career, seminal Hong Kong painter Luis Chan has created tableaux of the changing faces of Hong Kong. Hanart TZ Gallery puts on display a variety of works that reflect Luis Chan’s 1960s shift from landscapes to dreamscapes, rural to urban, and reality to imagination.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with White Rhinocerous)', 1972, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with White Rhinocerous)’, 1972, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Hanart TZ Gallery is holding “Jazz with Luis”, a major, two-part retrospective exhibition of works by Hong Kong’s “legendary and uniquely eccentric painter” Luis Chan, including a selection of rarely seen masterpieces. The reference to jazz is not casual, as Hanart TZ Gallery Founder Tsong-Zung Chan writes:

Throughout his career, Luis approached art with the same combination of impeccable technique and improvisational freedom that characterizes jazz music: for him art was a way of dancing with life.

Nicknamed “King of Watercolour”, Luis Chan was born in Panama in 1905 and moved to Hong Kong with his family in 1910, where he lived for the next 85 years and passed away in 1995. He was a self-taught artist, who painted in his spare time and learned the techniques of western painting through a correspondence course from the Press Art School in London.

Luis Chan in his early 20s. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan in his early 20s. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Chan joined the pre-eminent western art society, called the Hong Kong Arts Club, where he became the chairman, and founded the Chinese Contemporary Artists’ Guild in 1960, where he hoped to unite Chinese artists with contemporary art. Also a prolific writer, his writings were often published in various magazines and newspapers.

As Tsong-Zung Chan writes in his essay “Dancing with Life: The Art of Luis Chan”, the artist’s oeuvre can be seen in relation with Hong Kong’s development from a small, rural place to an urban centre:

Until the 1950s, Hong Kong was a quiet place just beginning to embark on rapid socio-economic development; it was very much the place depicted in Luis’s early dreamy and pleasant landscapes. But radical changes came in the late 1950s, both for Hong Kong and for Luis Chan. Thus it is not surprising that one of the most intriguing aspects of Luis Chan’s artistic journey was the dramatic transformation in his painting style that occurred in 1960, when the artist was fifty-five years old. The paintings Luis created in the three decades prior to this watershed year and those he created in the three decades after are so dramatically different that they seem virtually unrelated. The impression created is almost as though the psyche of this one man was split into two distinct personalities rooted in two completely alien worlds.

“Landscape Fantasy”

"Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan", installation view of Exhibition Part 1, "Landscape Fantasy", 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

“Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan”, installation view of Exhibition Part 1, “Landscape Fantasy”, 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Sheltering Harbour, Turquoise Sea)', 1960 oil on board, 40 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Sheltering Harbour, Turquoise Sea)’, 1960, oil on board, 40 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Hillside Town with Pink Temple), '1955-1965, oil on board, 36 x 45.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Hillside Town with Pink Temple), ‘1955-1965, oil on board, 36 x 45.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (View of Lavender Harbour from the Peak)', 1959, watercolour on paper, 36.5 x 46.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (View of Lavender Harbour from the Peak)’, 1959, watercolour on paper, 36.5 x 46.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

"Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan", installation view of Exhibition Part 1, "Landscape Fantasy", 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

“Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan”, installation view of Exhibition Part 1, “Landscape Fantasy”, 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

Luis Chan, '3 Dragons', 1969, ink and colour on paper, 74 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘3 Dragons’, 1969, ink and colour on paper, 74 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Embracing Couple)', 1970, ink and colour on paper, 57 x 74 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Embracing Couple)’, 1970, ink and colour on paper, 57 x 74 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Seaside Village)', 1970, ink and colour on paper, 57 x 74 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Seaside Village)’, 1970, ink and colour on paper, 57 x 74 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

"Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan", installation view of Exhibition Part 1, "Landscape Fantasy", 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

“Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan”, installation view of Exhibition Part 1, “Landscape Fantasy”, 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

Luis Chan, 'Rock Monsters', 1972, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 45 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Rock Monsters’, 1972, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 45 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Butterfly', 1972, ink and colour on paper, 70 x 128 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Butterfly’, 1972, ink and colour on paper, 70 x 128 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'New Year', 1972, ink and colour on paper, 135.5 x 68.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘New Year’, 1972, ink and colour on paper, 135.5 x 68.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Undersea Garden with Winged Creature)', 1972, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Undersea Garden with Winged Creature)’, 1972, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

"Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan", installation view of Exhibition Part 1, "Landscape Fantasy", 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

“Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan”, installation view of Exhibition Part 1, “Landscape Fantasy”, 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Two Suns)', 1975, ink and colour on paper, 120.5 x 60 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Two Suns)’, 1975, ink and colour on paper, 120.5 x 60 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled', 1969-1971, mixed media and collage on paper, 38 x 58 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled’, 1969-1971, mixed media and collage on paper, 38 x 58 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (A 3-Storey Landscape)', 1978, mixed media and collage on paper, 76 x 54 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (A 3-Storey Landscape)’, 1978, mixed media and collage on paper, 76 x 54 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Nymph , Shells and Butterfly)', 1978, mixed media and collage on paper, 58.5 x 76 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled (Fantasy Landscape with Nymph , Shells and Butterfly)’, 1978, mixed media and collage on paper, 58.5 x 76 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

"Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan", installation view of Exhibition Part 1, "Landscape Fantasy", 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

“Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan”, installation view of Exhibition Part 1, “Landscape Fantasy”, 17 February to 4 March 2017, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

“Urban Figures”

Luis Chan, 'Untitled', 1960, oil on board, 41 x 30.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled’, 1960, oil on board, 41 x 30.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled', 1968, ink and colour on paper, 100 x 152 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled’, 1968, ink and colour on paper, 100 x 152 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled', 1985, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled’, 1985, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Greenleaf', 1985, ink and colour on paper, 137 x 69.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Greenleaf’, 1985, ink and colour on paper, 137 x 69.5 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled', 1986, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled’, 1986, ink and colour on paper, 69 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, 'Untitled', 1978, mixed media and collage on paper, 55 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Luis Chan, ‘Untitled’, 1978, mixed media and collage on paper, 55 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

 

“Jazz with Luis: A Retrospective of Paintings by Luis Chan” runs in two parts: Exhibition Part 1, “Landscape Fantasy”, from 17 February to 4 March 2017, and Exhibition Part 2, “Urban Figures”, from 10 to 25 March 2017, at Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong.

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Related Topics: Hong Kong artists, painting, gallery shows, events in Hong Kong, photo galleries

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