Western approaches

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 May, 1994, 12:00am

WUCIUS Wong, one of the handful of eminently talented Hong Kong painters of the older generation, emigrated to the United States 10 years ago, where his style has broadened without losing its unique qualities.

His exhibition at the Hanart TZ Gallery contains work from the past four years, including a few of his paintings in traditional Chinese inks, although most are in oil and acrylic.

These Western paiaditional one - from a height - but the effect of using Western media is to render the traditional Chinese approach and brushwork opaque, solid, even at times turgid.

These are challenging paintings by an artist of searching talent - the first Chinese painter seriously to attempt to cross-breed Chinese and Western approaches to landscape. In so doing the two remain rather uncomfortable together.

A designer, Wong often composes in tightly repetitive elements from Chinese traditional ''naturalism'', which often add up to an image that is almost abstract. The great skill of this artist, not content with the use of a traditionally Chinese medium, is to paint essentially Chinese landscapes in a Western medium with results that are a hybrid of styles.

With these Western materials we look instinctively for Western landscape approaches; and if we are Chinese we search - in vain - for the structural felicities of traditional brushwork on absorbent paper, and for the blank areas the mind fills in.

But this is in its way curiously exciting work, ringing bells for the future, for as yet unrealised Sino-Western art to set beside African-permeated early Cubism.

nt materials on canvas are used to imitate traditional Chinese subject matter and brushwork. The viewpoint of the artist is the tr