Anson Chan

Works by Anson Chan's artist mother, Fang Zhaoling, on sale at art fair

Anson Chan says her mother's progressive spirit lives on in her paintings and calligraphy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 3:11am

Artist Fang Zhaoling was a woman of many talents, according to her daughter Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Hong Kong's former chief secretary. Not only was Fang an ink artist in a class of her own, she was also a mother ahead of her time.

"When we were young, of course, she made sure we were properly brought up. But she never insisted on us doing certain things," Chan said.

Fang's spirit lives on not only in Chan's memories, but also in her paintings, which are being exhibited for sale at the Fine Art Asia fair in the largest solo exhibition since the artist died in 2006. Her works will be at the Alisan Fine Arts gallery booth.

Around 25 works from the 1970s to the early 2000s are featured, including colourful ink paintings and calligraphy.

Some of the highlights are ink art interpretations of Stonehenge - including Stonehenge in Blue Green (1982), Stonehenge I (1987) and Stonehenge Revisited (1987) - and landscape paintings such as Winter at the Border of Switzerland and France (1987).

"Her paintings were whimsical, a combination of sophistication and naivety. They look very easy, but are actually very difficult to paint," Chan says.

"Over the years, her paintings became more impressionistic, like the Stonehenge series. She was in a class of her own."

Fang, who was born in 1914 in Wuxi , Jiangsu province to industrialist Fang Shouyi, was the elder of two daughters. She displayed great interest in calligraphy at a young age.

Fang and her husband had eight children, of whom Chan is the eldest. Her husband died in 1950, and Fang had to raise the children by herself while running her husband's business.

Though war and family interrupted her painting career, she did not give up. In the mid-1950s, Fang studied under master Zhang Daqian. She also travelled the world for her art. Now her works are in museums like the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the British Museum.

"My mother worked extremely hard. She was a very resourceful person, a woman ahead of her time," Chan says.

The exhibition means the family will part with paintings from their private collection. "We want more people to get to know about mother's art, to appreciate her works," Chan says.

Chan hopes that Hong Kong can have a venue dedicated to ink art, which is now mostly in private collections.

Alisan Fine Arts director Alice King also chairs the Ink Society. It is behind a bid to turn the King Yin Lei mansion in Stubbs Road into an ink art centre, under a Development Bureau partnership scheme to revitalise historic buildings.

The exhibition will move to the gallery in Aberdeen from October 9 to November 10.