Drawing on past
THE Visual Arts Society in its 20 years has probably nourished more good Hong Kong artists than any other organisation.
It has been my privilege to watch many of them graduate into the realm of professionalism.
One of the founders, Lui Fung-ngar, for years a painter of erotic subjects, although in abstract form, has modulated his ideas to more subtle work; his canvases depend for effect on the clever modulation of one colour laid on another within geometrical forms. Yet this is still recognisably the same artist at work.
So, too, is the abstract heavily modelled work of Aser But, whose passion has always been the bulky bark of trees. He is still with them but dealing in flat colour with their texture portrayed in high relief.
These are works that have an immaculate purity.
The sculptor Tong Kong-sum shows a life-size figure emerging from the trunk of a tree - a hamadryad, a Greek wood-nymph, but fleshed and of the here-and-now despite mythological origins.
Victor Li, another wood-carver, has a couple of pieces that look at first sight as though they may be the work of a woodpecker but, in fact, are imaginative forms of intriguing novelty, while Gaylord Chan, long a boldly extrovert abstractionalist, now turns to subtlety, overlaying greenish yellow palette-knife swathes on underlying burnt orange - with great effect.
And Ha Bik-chuen has changed from paper to metal foil relief, all textured and coloured and formally strong.
Younger artists worth closely watching are Yeung Tong-lung whose painting ''T'' is a considerable abstract work. So, too, is Danny Li's Ancient Mural 5. Victor Lai is the best oil painter in Hong Kong, and Wong Ping Kwong is one of the best young sculptors in ceramics.
It is, all in all, a stimulating 20th birthday performance.