The South China Morning Post got some provocative quotes from ink painter Wucius Wong. The octogenarian, who has an exhibition of his work up in Hong Kong right now, goes after the M+ show of Contemporary Chinese artists whom he dismisses. Wong raises some interesting points not because he is a traditionalist who has turned his back on Western influence but because he was part of the generation who got caught up in the internationalizing influence of Modernism:
In the 1960s, Wong left Hong Kong for the US, where he attended art school in Ohio and Baltimore for four years, finishing with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute of Art.
“When I arrived there in 1961, abstract expressionism was all the rage, followed by pop art and minimalism. I was exposed to all that, attending lectures by the likes of David Smith and going to lots of exhibitions in New York,” the artist recalls.
Despite that experience, or, maybe, because of it, Wong believe Chinese art needs to build on its own cultural traditions. Also, there’s a practical reason. Demand:
“In the 21st century, there are a lot of Chinese collectors. Some will buy a Modigliani but most of them do not know anything about Western art. They only understand Chinese art, which is why prices of works by modern Chinese painters like Lin Fengmin and Wu Guanzhong have become sky high. At the same time, people who bought avant garde contemporary paintings a few years ago have seen prices fall.” By that reasoning, he adds, modern ink will continue to benefit from Chinese interest.
Hong Kong’s Wucius Wong delivers riposte to ‘derivative’ Chinese contemporary artists (South China Morning Post)