CityU Gallery presents masterpieces of Hon Chi-fun

Jenny Kwan & Mo Wong

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Mr Hon Chi-fun, a Hong Kong native, is one of the most important artists in Hong Kong's history. His career, style and achievements are testimony to the movement towards modernity in local art, and a symbol of the distinctive identity and spirit of Hong Kong culture.

To provide an opportunity for the general public and members of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) to view Mr Hon's work, an exhibition entitled "Conceptual Feeling Beyond Images - The Works of Hon Chi-fun" is being held at the CityU Gallery until 9 December. More than 30 paintings created during the past half century are on display.

The artist attended the opening ceremony on 29 October. Other officiating guests included Mrs Alice King, Mr James Ng Kam-ming, Chairman of CityU Gallery Management Committee and Executive Director of CityU Extension, and Professor Cheng Pei-kai, Director of CityU's Chinese Civilisation Centre.

In the welcoming speech, Professor Cheng said he was touched by Mr Hon's masterpieces because they demonstrated the artist’s commitment to his career. "The oldest painting was done in 1960 while the latest one was in October this year, which evidences how Mr Hon devoted his life to art in these 47 years," Professor Cheng said.

Mr Hon was born in Hong Kong in 1922. He studied in a private and old-fashioned school where he made acquaintance with various aspects of traditional Chinese culture. Then he went on to Wah Yan College, Kowloon, where he learned the basics of Chinese painting. In 1958, Mr Hon belonged to a group of artists and literati who founded the Modern Literature and Art Association, thereby starting a movement towards modernity in Hong Kong's artistic fields.

In 1960, some artists in the group, including Mr Hon, participated in the first Hong Kong Arts Festival, which can be said to have marked the launch of modern art in Hong Kong. His paintings of that period featured a blend of a near-realistic approach with a certain flavour suggestive of the style of Mr Luis Chan, an artist of the elder generation. These elements formed a solid foundation for Mr Hon's mastery of oil painting techniques.

In the early 1960s, Mr Hon started to evolve a fresh style of painting. His bold and sweeping brushstrokes produced an effect like that of ink wash. His use of colour suggested the technique in Chinese painting that uses black ink in various hues and shades. His paintings of this period show how a native Hong Kong artist, with a background in Chinese culture and an Eastern art tradition, sought Western-style modernity.

His large painting Bath of Fire (1968) marked both a turning-point along his road towards perfection and the opening of a new chapter in his career. During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Hon created a series of paintings called "circles".

Although at an advanced age now, Mr Hon retains a burning passion for creation and a lasting spirit of modernity. He has stayed with Western art as a foundation and made use of abstract forms throughout his career. His art also reflects his personality and mind. His surpassing achievements reveal a distinctive style of his own that stands out among the growing diversity of art in Hong Kong.

The exhibition continues until 9 December at the CityU Gallery, 6/F, Amenities Building. Opening hours are 10am to 7pm daily.


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