Lui had extensive training in various traditional styles, including calligraphy and landscape painting, where the emphasis is on copying a master’s work. Moving to Hong Kong in 1948 when it was a British colony (which it remained until 1997), Lui also had exposure to Western modern art, including Abstract Expressionism. He came to believe that an artist should not merely copy an established style but should express themselves and develop their own unique approach to art.
Beginning in the late 1950s, Lui combined calligraphic brushwork with a modernist sensibility, creating a style characterized by spontaneous playfulness and splashing brushwork. Later, inspired by his experience with Buddhist meditation and Daoist philosophy, he began to experiment with abstraction and created his Zen paintings. By the 1970s, his innovative visual vocabulary had helped spark an international interest in Chinese traditions of ink painting and its contemporary interpretations. Both through his role and work in the New Ink movement and as a sought-after educator, Lui was extremely influential on the generation of artists who followed.
Ink Play: Paintings by Lui Shou-Kwan—the first major solo show of this important artist in North America—features approximately three dozen works, including the artist’s signature Zen paintings. These selections document different periods in his practice and illustrate his revolutionary impact on the development of Chinese art in the mid- to late 20th century.
Jointly organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the exhibition is curated by Tao Wang, Pritzker Chair of Asian art, curator of Chinese art, and executive director of initiatives in Asia, and Josh Yiu, director, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Support for Ink Play: Paintings by Lui Shou-Kwan is provided by Alisan Fine Arts, American Friends of the Shanghai Museum, the family of Lui Shou-Kwan, Lawrence Chu, Whang Shang Ying, Jerry Yang, and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, New York.