Thoughts on Ink Paintings


I was lucky enough to see many Chinese calligraphy and ink paintings, both ancient and contemporary, because of my work in the past. I admire these arts so much but I can’t say I know how to appreciate them. Last week I went to see this mini exhibition of Chiu Ling-ban, a local artist, and realised that I don’t need to know Chinese art to appreciate ink paintings.

The artist has excellent skills in traditional Chinese art, inherited from his father who was also an artist, and was influenced by western styles and skills while he studied abroad, so his works show a blend of both cultures. Like this ink painting above, which captured Tai O, a fish village in Hong Kong decades ago, the skills and style are definitely ‘Chinese’, but some western influence can be seen in the composition. I especially like the vivid and smooth lines of the houses. It looks so effortless and harmonious.

I left the exhibition with some questions though. Putting aside how much it takes to get the skills, even if I can manage the skills, does it mean that I can create paintings like these? Sadly, it seems almost impossible to me. I need to form a picture in my head first for me to draw it. If I can’t depict a Chinese painting in my head, how can I create one, given the same landscape? No one can manage all art styles in the world. I just learnt that I need to see things with that eye when I want to do a particular style, for example, how can I draw an abstract-style painting without having first depicted the landscape/object abstractly in my mind? Excuse me for this late ‘discovery’, I’m sure many of you probably have known that. To do that, I think one way is inevitably to practice and improve the skills, the other way is see lots of good works to immerse yourself in that world.

上星期,我欣賞了本地畫畫家(兼財經人)趙令彬在美專舉行的畫展,畫展雖小,卻令人大飽眼福。趙令彬幼受庭訓,自小已練就一身好畫功,展覽中不少畫都是畫幾十年前的香港,見證著上世紀的滄海桑田。這些雖是水墨畫,其中也不難看出西方畫的構圖和線條,我覺得尤其是上面畫大澳的這幅有少許吳冠中的感覺。欣賞之餘,我想,為何現今很少有人畫得出這種感覺呢? 我的愚見是,技巧只是其一,更重要是一個人心裏有沒有圖畫。即使是石屎森林,在懂畫的人眼裏都可以畫出味道,那需要看大量的好作品去浸淫出來。當然,背後還有一大堆原因,我就不說太多了。



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