Hock Aun Teh

Chinese art is at a crossroads; after Soviet-style realism, and hosts of happy smiling peasants, it doesn’t know which way to turn. Some artists have returned to traditional Chinese landscape painting – misty mountains, bamboo and boats, as if the nineteenth century had never happened, let alone the twentieth!  Some have picked up European art as it was before the Communist era, and returned to the now safe and saleable haven of Impressionism.  A few have leapt on the ghastly, mindless bandwagon of conceptualism, attracted by the high prices charged by the con-artists of the west.  Others have tried to build on American Abstract Expressionism – a natural homecoming, for this art originally had its roots in oriental art, philosophy and calligraphy. Most of these artists, however, incorporate landscapes into their abstractions: the Chinese have difficulty with pure non-representation. 

One of the few Chinese artists to develop Abstract Expressionism in Chinese terms without reintroducing representation is the Malaysian-born, Western-educated Chinese artist, Hock-Aun Teh. He managed this by looking East as well as West.  In particular he was inspired by the wild, almost totally abstracted, ‘Mad Grass’ calligraphy of the Tang Dynasty,  reinventing it in 20th century terms and in full colour, and proving that genuine, exuberant modern art can flower on China’s ancient tree.  This is indigenous Chinese art that points the way forward to China’s cultural future.  All great artworks give you a kick on first sight, but few with more punch than the paintings of Hock-Aun Teh, who is also a brilliant master of martial arts.  All art at its best suspends energy for our contemplation and delight.

For more information please visit: www.hockaunteh.com

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Beijing in Autumn 1995
acrylic on  paper  61 x 66 cm