Nine Abysses 《九淵》 – Recent Works of Chui Pui-Chee 徐沛之
Venue: iPreciation (誰先覺), 50 Cuscaden Road, HPL House #01-01, Singapore 249724
Private Preview: Oct 15, 2022 (By Invitation Only)
Exhibition Opens to Public: Oct 17 – Nov 5, 2022
‘Nine Abysses’ is a reflection of my life experiences and emotions. I encountered a series of difficulties in work and my private life in recent years and have been down in the dumps. But I managed to persist in the creation of art and the pine tree symbolizes this persistence. The dark background is intentionally set to represent the sadness I have been through.
On the other hand, the process of adding details with gongbi technique to depict the pine trees and jagged rocks to soothe my emotions. To me, it is a way of mediating and somehow I found inner peace. I hope the audience could feel the feelings in this painting.
I also hope the audience would look closer to see the details of the painting, especially the pine trees, and pine needles. The original colour of the paper is gold and silver. I used the traditional Chinese Ink (need grinding). To enhance the darkest part of the painting, I mixed the ink with charcoal powder so it would look darker and create a mysterious dark space. This is my unique technique. (The traditional method will use a very concentrated ink but when it is dried, it will look shiny.)
～Chui Pui Chee
About the Exhibition
iPreciation is delighted to debut Hong Kong artist Chui Pui Chee’s first solo exhibition titled Nine Abysses《九淵》 in Singapore.
Born in 1980 in Hong Kong, contemporary ink artist Chui graduated from Queen’s College, Hong Kong in 1999. Chui studied Calligraphy under Chinese contemporary artist Jat See-Yeu since young and graduated from the Department of Fine Arts of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 2003. The following year, he then furthered his postgraduate studies at the Department of Chinese Calligraphy at the China Academy of Art where he obtained his Master of Arts in 2007, and subsequently his PhD under the tutelage of world-renowned Chinese contemporary artist Wang Dongling in 2010.
Chui started off his artistic career in university with expressive calligraphy. However, he was not satisfied with merely engaging in formal learning of calligraphy, and desired more. During a stint at an auction house as a specialist in Chinese painting and calligraphy, Chui was exposed to many brilliant classical and modern Chinese paintings. He was thus inspired to study and explore the different techniques, skills and materials of Chinese painting, and he became especially fond of employing gongbi (literally “neat brushstroke”) as a form of artistic expression. 18 years on, Chui established himself as an experimentalist known for his thought-provoking paintings deriving from the structure of calligraphic fundamentals. The incorporation of Chui’s personal interpretation and compelling elements in his paintings such as insects, mythology and Cantonese pop songs, contribute to a refreshing and delightful twist to the traditional gongbi painting.
Nine Abysses《九淵》 showcases 13 recent works by Chui and spotlights his development in the Nine Abysses series – contemporary ink landscapes featuring pine trees rising above clouds, and out of steep rocky cliffs. Amid a global pandemic and several socio-political movements in recent years, Chui finds himself increasingly drawn to the tranquility of Northern Song-style landscape paintings. He has selected an atypical subject matter, the mythological Nine Abysses said to be a spring where a sacred dragon resides, or in Taoism, a metaphor for the nine ways of life to ultimate bliss. Leveraging such poetic imagery, Chui then employs the gongbi technique to create a magnificent landscape packed with exquisite details.
The arduous process Chui went through to contrive each painting is a parallel reflection of his uphill struggles in real life and an ongoing yearning to find inner peace. Rather than presenting the abyss as it is, Chui turned towards thriving pine trees (which are collectively a symbol of self-discipline and endurance) triumphing over the dark, a brilliant move to bring forth the tension existing within such a space. Against a dynamic background of expressively painted clouds and waterfalls on gold and silver paper, he arduously painted each delicate pine needle and fine lines, gradually actualising the monumental composition.
Upon a closer look, one would realise, unlike classical ink paintings where a high concentration of black ink would leave a sheen when it dries up, dark areas in Chui’s works are pitch black (as seen in Nine Abysses XLI 九淵之四十一, 2022). This is due to the artist’s unique method of mixing ink with charcoal powder to dampen the glow and bring more gloom that could encapsulate his sadness.
The absolute focus and precision required in the meticulous application of each brushstroke has turned the creation process into a mediative and introspective session, one that is laborious yet soothing to the soul. Condensing his emotions into superbly fine lines, Chui’s paintings exude a generous number of emotions waiting to be shared with and felt by us.
About the Artist
Hong Kong contemporary ink artist Chui Pui Chee (b. 1980) holds a degree from the Department of Fine Arts (2003), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and a Master of Arts (2007) and Doctoral Degree (2010) from the Department of Chinese Calligraphy, China Academy of Art.
Chui served as a programme coordinator at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, CUHK (2007-2015), taught calligraphy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2011-2012), a part-time lecturer at CUHK (2018-2020) and Hong Kong Baptist University (2019-2022). He also worked in the Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Department of China Guardian (HK) Auctions from 2015 to 2017. He was an Honorary Advisor of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, CUHK (2017-2018). Chui is currently an executive member of The Jiazi Society of Calligraphy and Friends of Shizhai (2000 to present), as well as a research fellow of the Modern Calligraphy Research Center of China Academy of Art (2000 to present).
In 2012, Chui received the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards – Young Artist Award, presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. He also received the Award for Young Artist (Visual Arts) at the Hong Kong Arts Development Awards 2015 organised by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. He was a finalist in The Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2015, 2018 and 2020. Chui has held various solo and group exhibitions in Hong Kong, China and the rest of the world. His works are permanently collected by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology of the University of Oxford.
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