“Above all else art has to stimulate the imagination”—Luis Chan, 1984
A painter, teacher, writer, curator, and ardent cultural advocate, Luis Chan (1905-1995) was born in Panama in 1905 and moved to Hong Kong at the age of five. He hardly travelled beyond its shores, but avidly read international art publications, painted constantly and remained a pivotal figure in the development of 20th century Chinese art. Starting with Western-style oils and watercolor, Chan soon developed a diverse repertoire of styles that did not fit within any prescribed genre or movement. His works range from surreal Chinese ink landscapes, fantastical portraits in oil, to graphic Matisse-esque collages and bold abstract experimentations reminiscent of ‘action’ painting.
This March, Sotheby’s New York will present a selection of works by Luis Chan representing all stages of his artistic output. His artworks intuit the frenzied, dynamic development of modern Hong Kong over six decades, from a sleepy fishing hamlet to the metropolitan city of his late years. At the heart of this exhibition is the constant presence of a man who viewed the world wielding a paintbrush and wonderful joie de vivre.