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Departures: Leng Hong, Liu Jian, Yi Kai

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
22 June, 2019
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Closing / End Date:
30 September, 2019
Event Category:
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Three Chinese Diaspora Artists

22 June –  30 September 2019 (by appointment only)

Address: 2305 Hing Wai Centre, 7 Tin Wan Praya Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Alisan Fine Arts is pleased to present a group exhibition for three Chinese diaspora artists, Leng Hong, Liu Jian, and Yi Kai at our Aberdeen space. These three contemporaries emigrated from China in the late 1980s and deserve attention, in that regard, as a new wave of “Lost Generation” artists. The earlier waves of these displaced souls include masters long represented by Alisan Fine Arts, such as Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh-chun, and Walasse Ting, who left China in the mid 1900s. Similarly, Leng Hong, Liu Jian, and Yi Kai each left promising careers behind as artists on the Mainland to pursue assimilation both socially and professionally into adopted Western homelands. These artists share parallel paths, passing their teenage years in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), after which each had the opportunity to study painting, including exposure to Academic European traditions, Social Realism, as well as traditional Chinese brush and ink painting. Despite success and recognition, each man chose to extricate himself from the uncertainty of artistic freedom within China, and ply his trade overseas – Yi Kai moving to New York, Liu Jian and Leng Hong to Canada, the latter by way of France. There they determinedly labored to achieve a blended style between Eastern and Western, appealing to the Western aesthetic, while remaining true to their cultural heritage. This exhibition provides a platform to showcase the success of these often solitary, one-man pursuits, uniting the three in one exhibition to highlight the geographic breadth of influence absorbed into Chinese tradition as a result of these “Departures.”

Leng Hong is a celebrated Chinese artist acclaimed for his exquisitely textured oil paintings, imbued with rich colours, and ‘mysterious’ feelings. His oeuvre varies in subject matter, from landscape and still life scenes to portraits of ladies in waiting from the Tang and Song Dynasties. Born in 1955 Shanghai, he graduated from the Shanghai Institute of Theatre and Dramatic Arts in 1978. While at the institute he learned to paint in the Academic European tradition and became adept in perspective, chiaroscuro, modelling, and social realism. He also studied traditional Chinese brush and ink painting, and was particularly drawn to Tang and Northern Song landscape paintings. In 1986 after moving to Bordeaux, France, influenced by the local environment, he began experimenting with different styles, seeking ways in which to draw aesthetic inspiration from both traditions. He currently resides in Shanghai, China and Montreal, Canada, and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Shanghai University.

Alisan Fine Arts first showed his works in the landmark exhibition A State of Transition: Contemporary Paintings from Shanghai at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1987. That same year, he was awarded the Grand Prize “Nouveau Talent” of the Federation Nationale de la Culture Française. Since then the gallery has held five solo shows for the artist, the most recent one was in 2015, and exhibited his works at Art 021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair in 2015. He has had numerous exhibitions, including at the Musée des Beaux-arts de Bordeaux; Musée de Pau; Chateau d’Issan, France; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum. His works have been collected by Suzhou Museum; Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai; Yangzhou Museum; Zhenjiang Museum; Changzhou Museum; Shanghai China Art Academy.

Liu Jian was born in Shanghai in 1961, and at eighteen was one of the few students accepted to attend the Beijing People’s Army Art College. At twenty-four, he was made life-time resident of the Traditional Chinese Painting Academy, Shanghai, and began teaching thereafter. There he met and worked with many prolific painters, and learned first-hand both Northern and Southern styles of traditional Chinese art. After several major shows across France, Germany, and Italy, the artist eventually settled in Canada in 1990. In this exhibition, three of Liu’s early acrylic works in 1990s incorporated broad swathes of colour and texture, and were undoubtedly influenced by Western abstract artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Joseph Beuys. Liu blends together traditional and abstract styles, in different tones of blue and brown, grey and orange, pink and blue, with hints of colour here and there. The artist’s works are embodiments of his experiences, education, like dreamscapes of what ink paintings could be, with the term “ink” loosely refined by his technical execution.

As with Leng Hong, Liu’s works were first shown in 1987 Alisan Fine Arts’ landmark exhibition A State of Transition: Contemporary Paintings from Shanghai. Since then Alisan has held four solo exhibitions for the artist. In 2016 we held the joint exhibition Is it Ink Art together with Zhang Yu, and included Liu’s works in West Bund Art & Design Fair 2018 in Shanghai. Over the years he has had numerous solo exhibitions in Europe, North America, and Hong Kong. His works have been collected by the Hong Kong Museum of Art; American Club, Hong Kong;  the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, Canada; Bank of China, Hong Kong; Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan; Prince Haik, Austria; Exxon Energy Ltd., Hong Kong.

Yi Kai, born in 1955 Changsha, showed an affinity for art and drawing at an early age. In 1970, at the age of fifteen he was drafted into the People’s Army at the height of the Cultural Revolution, and spent nine years building railways in the countryside and creating art propaganda for the People’s Republic of China. In 1979, he was chosen as one of thirty-five from four thousand applicants to attend the Art Institute of the Army of China in Beijing earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts in traditional Chinese painting. During the late 1970s and early 1980s as China opened to the West, he became exposed to Western culture, particularly American culture. In 1985, Yi Kai attained his Masters of Fine Arts from the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing. In 1989, he immigrated to the United States. During the last twenty years Yi Kai’s art has transitioned from his artistic education in China to abstract and colourful works that reflect the influence of American culture and expression that inform his current direction.

Alisan Fine Arts first exhibited Yi Kai’s works in 1990 as part of Landscapes, Figures, Flowers & Birds: Variation from China held at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Since then the gallery has organised three solo exhibitions for the artist. More recently in 2015, the gallery presented What Goes Around Goes Around a travelling solo exhibition, which visited Claremont Graduate University in California and 53 Art Museum in Guangzhou before coming to Alisan Fine Arts. Yi Kai’s paintings have been collected by the Minnesota Museum of American Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Art; SAP American, Philadelphia; Museum of Fu Tan Po, Osaka; Beijing Art Institute; and Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong to name a few.


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