Singapore on Paper - Works by Hong Zhu An, Jimmy Ong and Chen Kezhan
April 18 - May 11, 2002
Plum Blossoms Gallery, New York

Connected by their Singapore nationality and by their preference for working with the paper medium, each of the three artists presented in Singapore on Paper goes his own way when it comes to his art. And though the three have followed different paths, each has found acceptance outside the confines of their island city state.

Hong Zhu An
Hong Zhu An was born in 1955 in Wuxi, Jiangsu province in China. In 1993 he settled in Singapore with his wife. Steeped in the history and methods of Chinese brush painting and educated most recently in Western art history and techniques, Hong Zhu An has a vast artistic vocabulary at his fingertips. However, his abstract paintings may be seen in the simplest terms as an amalgam of two elements: line and color. Hong Zhu An's interest in line is directly related to the calligraphy he has practiced since childhood. In some of his paintings, recognizable Chinese characters are arranged in orders which render them devoid of meaning. In others, all that is left of the character is its distillation: a single line. Line is executed on color-saturated ground achieved by building layers of diluted colors on paper - the resulting expanses of juxtaposed color resonate, the surfaces shimmer and seem to breathe. For the artist, the intrinsic relationship between the color background and the calligraphic line is poetic and is an expression of pure beauty and emotion. 

Chen Kezhan
Evident in Chen Kezhan's energetic abstract paintings is his clear comfort with his place midway between the Western school of Abstract Expressionism on the one hand and the literati tradition of Chinese ink painting on the other. With his bold brushstrokes, Chen dissolves the immutable line between calligraphy and painting and achieves translucency through dense layers of black ink and mineral colors. Chen Kezhan was born in Singapore in 1959. His works have been exhibited extensively throughout Asia and Europe, and he was chosen to be one of four artists to represent Singapore at the prestigious 2001 Venice Biennale.

 

Jimmy Ong
Working solely in charcoal on paper, Jimmy Ong has created a highly individual artistic language full of intriguing paradoxes. His monumental drawings of nude figures are the products of an artist who moves between the cultures of West and East with ease. On the surface his drawings seem to have roots in classical Renaissance art, but technically they are more akin to traditional Chinese landscape painting. His entwined couples often appear to be embattled and yet they exude a peaceful stillness. Born in 1964, Jimmy Ong was born in Singapore in 1964. In 1980 he won the prestigious UOB (United Overseas Bank) Painting of the Year Award and since then has been the recipient of awarded many prestigious international awards and scholarships.

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