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Amy Leung: MEDL/T

15 March - 15 April

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Local Chinese painting artist Amy Leung for the first time runs a solo exhibition in Hong Kong. The exhibition “MELD/T” takes place at the Heritage Hall of Tsim Sha Tsui 1881 Heritage from March 15 to April 15, 2024, featuring 22 recent Chinese paintings to convey the artist’s admiration of the polar landscapes and animals.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Amy studied under the eminent practitioner of the Lingnan School of Painting, Mr. Chao Shao-an. Choosing an uncommon path in the early 90’s, Amy went to Beijing to explore the possibilities of Chinese painting. In 1992, she entered the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) to further her studies with Professor Zhang Lichen, who was the Head of the Chinese Painting Department, with profound achievement in the creative transformation and innovation of Chinese paintings. Greater freehand brushwork painting represents the epitome of elegance in Chinese painting and embodies the cultural cultivation, philosophical reflection and high aesthetic standards of Chinese arts. In 1999, Leung obtained her master’s degree from CAFA and became a professional painter after graduation. Over the past 30 years, Amy has immersed herself in the rich artistic nourishment of Beijing, continuously refining her skills and developing her own style of greater freehand brushwork.

Amy’s paintings demonstrate a fusion of different cultures and multifold influences from her life experiences around the world. She left Hong Kong and moved to Beijing in the 90’s.  In the past 10 years, the artist has widened her exposure by visiting foreign places, being in touch with unfamiliar cultures and having developed a concern for our endangered environment. It provides the inspiration for her creative pursuit of greater freehand brushwork style. Her travel to the Antarctica not only brought her a sense of spiritual purification in communion with nature, the artist also witnessed the severe problems of Antarctica melting and the endangerment of living beings caused by global warming. These experiences inspired her to launch “MELD/T”, an art exhibition celebrating nature and environmental protection.

The exhibition “MELD/T” features two main series: “Antarctica” and “Floral”. In the “Antarctica” series, Amy employs her unique Seon, a wrinkled brushstroke, to outline the contours of melting icebergs with a diffused effect. She depicts the desolate yet sublime world of ice and snow with her exquisite ink-splashing technique. Wet and dry brushstrokes are adopted alternately to illustrate the melting ice in the wilderness. Her series “Waves” inherits the spirit of Ma Yuan’s works, with her own artistic interpretation, resulting in a painting demonstrating overwhelming visual space. The ‘Penguins’ represents Amy’s breakthrough in subject matter. Instead of following the Chinese tradition and reserving the mogu technique (boneless style) solely for the delicate and luxurious bird-and-flower paintings, the artist vividly captures the form, color and ingenuous spirit of penguins with the mogu technique. The “Antarctica” expresses the artist’s concern about environmental destruction. She transforms her worry and sorrow into lively and powerful representations of the Antarctic, making her artworks a sincere call to protect beauty of the landscape.

Wildflowers is a rare subject matter in traditional Chinese painting. Interestingly, Amy focuses on unknown flowers in her “Floral” series, using the traditional mogu staining and dyeing technique to illustrate everyday beauty, such as the wildflowers. Her clever use of the mogu technique can be seen in the delicate drifting floss in “Dancing in the Wind”, the intertwining lotus and water lilies in “Ever-changing” , the sunflower in “Pensive” and the realistic yet illusory clusters of small flowers in “Shadow”. With concise but powerful brushstrokes, Amy blends ink and colors to evoke gentle sensation and convey rich connotations. She paints with appreciation and affection for every being, indulging herself in the worlds of nature and Chinese painting to bring out the spirit of freehand brushwork.

Art critic and Doctoral Supervisor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Professor Yu Yang, states, “Amy Leung’s exploration of Chinese painting demonstrates her meditation on humanities and the natural environment, reaching new heights in the expressions of Chinese painting.” Shang Hui, Director of the Theory Committee of the Chinese Artists Association, comments that Amy’s “Antarctica” series not only expresses nature but “more profoundly reflects the philosophical contemplations of objects, time, and life”. Wang Ping, Secretary-General of the Chinese Artists Association, appreciates Amy’s artistic innovations, by pointing out that “as an artist, (Amy Leung) engage in the exploration of ‘new’ language, at the same time safeguarding her spiritual roots in the Chinese art tradition…. Such exploration is truly valuable”. Professor Zhang Lichen highly praises his student’s freehand brushwork of “forgetting self, form, and technique” as having “transcended metaphysics” and “reached the realm of ultimate spirituality”.

Amy’s journey of art is destined to be different from the mainstream Hong Kong artists since the day she chose to explore Chinese painting in Beijing. Characterised with traditional techniques and modern philosophies, her paintings inherit Chinese traditions and at the same time capture voices of the contemporary. “MELD/T” represents the juxtaposition of different cultures from the East and West, with contrasting elements of cold and warm taken from the artist’ daily life and her travel experiences. The exhibition highlights Amy’s achievements in mastering greater freehand brushwork techniques over the years, showcasing her outstanding innovations in the world of Chinese painting.

Amy Leung’s latest pictorial, “MELD/T”, featuring 130 paintings from the past five years, is now available at EastPro Gallery, Eslite Bookstore, Kelly & Walsh, and Amazon (US, UK, and Japan).

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