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The Verve of Light and Shadow: Master Photographers Tchan Fou-li, Kan Hing-fook, Leo K.K. Wong
Thematic Galleries (1) & (2),
Hong Kong Heritage Museum
29 March 2009 - 26 October 2009

A Salute to Masters Programme Series

"Hong Kong Photography Series" Exhibition I

Looking back on the development of the history of photography in Hong Kong and the influences it exerted upon the entire Chinese community, it is clear that this city's mainstream movement from the 1950s to the 1980s was pictorialism. Living in this cosmopolitan city where east meets west, and influenced by Western photographic art, local pictorialists sought to create painterly effects as an expression of a fine art sensibility. At the same time, nurtured by a deeply-rooted Chinese culture, these artists created a unique photographic aesthetic. Active since the heyday of pictorialism, Tchan Fou-li (1916-), Kan Hing-fook (1921-) and Leo K.K. Wong (1932-) are three pivotal figures of this movement.

Tchan Fou-li founded the Chinese Photographic Association of Hong Kong, an association comprised mostly of Chinese photographers. He also invested in publications like Photoart and Photo Pictorial which popularised photographic art. Over the years, Tchan has produced a host of outstanding works rich in Chinese character. He asserts that "landscape photography should honour the heritage of Chinese painting" and advocates the principle of a "composite-style of photography and painting". Providing a strong sense of Chinese heritage and poetics, he has established the unique "Tchan Style"

Kan Hing-fook has earned many accolades in international salons. His Water Palette from 1953 won the gold medal award of the 8th International Salon organised by the Photographic Society of Hong Kong, marking the first time the honour went to a Chinese photographer. Kan believes the painting-like "beauty" inherent to photographic works can interpret a "perfection" of the highest calibre. To create a perfect photo, he is prepared to travel the country or even the world. His landscape photos, capturing the splendour and grandeur of nature, are truly inspiring.

Leo K.K. Wong ranked nine times amongst the world's top ten photographers with his submissions to international salons during the early years. Between 1984 and 1994 he studied Chinese ink painting and enriched his photographic works with the quintessence found in this medium. His goal was to pursue abstract beauty as expressed by the phrase "unlikeness is true likeness" and epitomised in Chinese painting. In recent years, Wong has infused photography with his strong passion for nature. With different photographic techniques, he hopes to eternalise the momentary beauty of nature.

These three masters have produced great artistic achievements. In addition to earning Hong Kong its worldwide reputation as the "Salon Kingdom", due to numerous international awards won, they have also made endless explorations in the realm of art. Such spirit is indeed admirable and inspiring. This exhibition presents forty outstanding photographic works from different periods by each artist. They are indeed icons of a glorious era of Hong Kong's pictorial photography. The great achievements of this era also accentuate Hong Kong's unique role in Chinese photography, one that carries on past heritage and opens up promisingly to the future.