Since the 1960s, Hong Kong artist Leung Kui Ting (梁巨廷) has consistently challenged existing paradigms in classical Chinese and modern Western art to create new visual effects. The artist divides his career into two parts: the first known as the 'cause' phase—during which Leung drew from his background in Chinese ink painting and graphic design—and the second, known as the 'effects' phase: a culmination of his decades-long trials, ongoing since 2000.
Leung was born in 1945 in Guangzhou, China, and grew up in Hong Kong. In 1964, he studied painting under Lui Shou-Kwan (1919–1975)—a leading figure in the Hong Kong New Ink Painting movement. The New Ink Painting movement revived interests in classical Chinese ink painting and advocated for an integration of Western art techniques and theories. Also influential in his education was Wucius Wong—the pioneering Chinese contemporary ink artist and another student of Lui—under whom Leung studied design. Between 1975 and 1990, Leung taught design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic.
In the early decades of his 'cause' phase, Leung experimented with various media in an attempt to create a hybrid of Chinese and Western artistic conventions. In the 1960s he worked in printmaking, sculpture and oil painting, while manipulating paper by dying, folding or sewing it to create irregular surfaces upon which to work. Drawing from his training in design, Leung created the geometric shapes that later became characteristic of his ink paintings. His fascination with texture continued into the 1970s, during which time he mixed calligraphy and oil pastels on paper.
Leung returned to Chinese ink painting in the mid-1980s when he travelled to different parts of China and gained a deeper understanding of the genre. Leung's newly found interests in rocks, trees and mountains as central subjects reflect those of Chinese literati painters—a school of scholar-artists that emerged in the Northern Song period (960–1127). The Chinese literati valued subjective representation of their experiences over the professional artist's realistic renderings of nature. Likewise, Leung uses the shapes and forms of nature as a vehicle through which he explores his thoughts.
Rocks are especially meaningful in Leung's paintings; in the series 'Zan Zak Zen', the artist portrays Chinese literati's rocks as if they were cliffs and mountains, while the magically floating mountains in 'Words from the Stones' also evoke the form. The dotted lines in Leung's paintings summon to mind the works of the dotted landscape of Mi Fu (1051–1108)—a renowned Song painter. However, Leung does not merely recreate the famous scenes of traditional literati paintings—he infuses them with elements borrowed from Western art, such as hard-edged planes and geometric forms suggestive of urban architecture. Leung also replaces the eye-level perspective with a panoramic view, introducing a perspective from a height that did not previously exist in classical Chinese painting.
In 2014, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, organised a major retrospective exhibition of Leung's work. At the heart of Geometry of the Spirit: 50 Years of Leung Kui Ting was Circulatory Landscape: his iconic 360-degree landscape painting that maintained the fine balance between traditional Chinese ink painting and Western techniques. Since his nomination as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Persons in Hong Kong (1981), Leung has become among the most significant artists in the city. He is currently the director of Hong Kong Chingying Institute of Visual Arts.
Born in Guangzhou in 1945, Leung Kui Ting moved to Hong Kong as a child and has gone on to have a marked influence on the city's art scene. Although originally a carpenter, Leung studied painting under Lui Shou Kwan and graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he studied design under Wucius Wong. Today, he continues as a lecturer...
Leung Kui-ting is convinced his ink painting teacher, the late master Lui Shou-kwan, would not have approved of his protégé's retrospective exhibition.'When he saw my ink paintings back in the 1970s — for which I cut my xuan rice paper into different shapes and incorporated Western elements — he was already jumping up and down [with...