Abstract Evolutions:
Sixty Years of Paintings by Fong Chung-Ray

3 May 2024 - 18 Aug 2024
1/F, T. T. Tsui Building, UMAG, HKU, 90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

The University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong is honoured to present Abstract Evolutions: Sixty Years of Paintings by Fong Chung-Ray. The significance of Fong Chung-Ray’s artistic oeuvre lies in his contribution both to the global art scene and the representation of Chinese artistic traditions in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century California. As an ambassador for art, he has played a crucial role in fostering cultural exchange between China and the West, and his artworks have introduced richly diverse artistic traditions, techniques and themes to international audiences, promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture.

Fong was born in Henan province. He received his formal art training at the Political Cadre College in Taiwan and graduated in 1954. He developed his style while living and practising in California. Most of his works are abstract paintings that blend influences from Chinese and Western artistic traditions, creating a unique form of cross-cultural expression. His works serve as a bridge between Eastern and Western art, incorporating elements from both traditions and fostering dialogue between various artistic perspectives. In so doing, he contributes to artistic innovation by bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas to the global art scene.

Chinese literati painting is distinguished by its emphasis on the expression of individual emotions, favouring the expression of a subject’s essence or spirit over a faithful imitation or realistic depiction. Fong’s affinity for the abstract could well be rooted in this literati tradition, where his inner experience and personal response to the world take precedence. His work reflects this philosophical underpinning, seeking to convey the underlying spirit of his subjects through abstraction rather than to depict their outward forms.

This approach aligns with abstract art’s emphasis on non-representational forms, where artists aim to convey emotions, ideas or sensations through the use of colour, form and composition rather than depicting recognisable objects or scenes. Some Chinese artists who emerged in the mid-twentieth century, such as Fong, emphasised individual expression and experimentation and further developed abstract art by incorporating elements of traditional Chinese painting into modern abstract approaches.

This anniversary exhibition and accompanying publication present a careful selection of Fong’s work tracing his artistic career and stylistic development over the last 60 years. It is a testament to the master’s contribution to late-twentieth-century Chinese painting in a global context.

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