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Luis Chan: Fantasy Landscape

March 19 @ 8:00 pm - April 27 @ 7:30 pm

Source: New Exhibitions

Chan began painting in the late 1920s in Hong Kong and emerged as a pivotal figure of 20th-century Chinese art. Born in Panama in 1905 to Cantonese parents, Chan settled in Hong Kong with his family in 1910 and developed his practice as a landscape painter and watercolourist. By the 1950s however, he had begun experimenting with other styles and mediums, influenced by a wide range of international avant-gardes, leading to his abandonment of orthodox styles completely by the 1960s in favour of more introspective and psychological landscapes. This shift was born in the ferment of the political, social and economic changes taking place at the time in Hong Kong, and while we are never able to see an explicit commentary on such events, Chan’s work exposes the subconscious of a city undergoing huge transformations. Chan’s canvases, having metamorphosed into surreal dreamscapes, used a psychedelic vocabulary to effectively map the collective mind of his hometown during a period of great upheaval. This mapping continued in the 1970s and 80s, typified by the works presented here at Bury Street, all produced from between 1972 and 1986.

Such a remarkable transformation delineates a clear contrast between his early and later works. These two decades sit firmly in the second half of the artists career and speak to a period characterised by rapid urbanisation, cultural experimentation and the convergence of Eastern and Western influences. It was against this backdrop that Chan transitioned from a landscape artist to what might be described as psycho-geographic mapper. He certainly had contemporaries who were influential in articulating this moment in history, too, but Chan was a singular figure who stood out as exemplary in this historical moment. The work resonated with the zeitgeist and cultural feeling of his own time, and while the political context engendered important questions surrounding cultural identity, tradition and modernisation, Chan somehow transcended his peers’ tendencies toward ideological allegiance – liberating himself into a world of fantasy and social allegory.


March 19 @ 8:00 pm
April 27 @ 7:30 pm
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Sadie Coles HQ, Bury Street


Sadie Coles HQ, Bury Street
8 Bury Street London SW1Y 6AB
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