HONG KONG - This summer Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery is thrilled to present Old Master Q: What The @#$% Is Going On? a selling exhibition featuring 128 original comic drawings in four- to six-frame formats as well as comic covers, by Alphonso Wong Kar-hei (well-known by his pen name, Wong Chak). Dating from the 1960s to the 1980s, these works offer valuable insights into Hong Kong society, culture and technological developments, as well as Wong’s own philosophy on life and love.

Alphonso Wong Kar-hei studied Western Fine Art at the Beijing Fu Jen University. He moved from Tianjin to Hong Kong in 1956, and created illustrations and full-length stories for the Hong Kong Catholic Lok-Fung Pao for nearly a decade. In the early 1960s, Alphonso began the Old Master Q comics series using his eldest son Joseph Wong’s Chinese name, Wong Chak. Since then, we have grown to love the constellation of colourful characters he created: the quirky and eccentric Old Master Q, kind-hearted yet humourous Big Potato, square and straitlaced Mr. Chin, gorgeous Ms. Chan who has Old Master Q head over heels, Mr. Chiu who competes keenly with Old Master Q in courting Ms. Chan, alongside a group of adorable animal friends . . . these characters have indeed been some of our most loyal childhood companions.

master-q-angelika-liSotheby's Angelika Li holding Old Master Q comics.

I remember as a child learning a lot of Chinese idioms that were used as titles of many Old Master Q stories–Noi Jan Cam Mei《耐人尋味》 describes a situation offering insights worthy of deep pondering, Wo Bat Daan Hang《禍不單行》 teaches us to watch out for a string of disasters that follow one another, Dak Ji Mong Jing《得意忘形》 describes a person who gets into trouble for getting carried away, Gok Jau Cin Cau《 _各有千秋》shows us an exciting competition in which each party brings unique strengths to the table. Mr. Wong’s witty story-telling and humorous drawings are perhaps best described as Ceot San Jap Faa《出神入化》– extraordinary abilities akin to miracles and magic. Timeless and charming, Old Master Q is an enduring icon that encapsulates the collective memory of Hong Kong and the Chinese diaspora around the world.

Old Master Q, Trinity, 1969. From the selling exhibition Old Master Q: What The @#$% Is Going On?
Old Master Q, New Trend, 1969. From the selling exhibition Old Master Q: What The @#$% Is Going On?
Old Master Q, Fruit of Love, 1970. From the selling exhibition Old Master Q: What The @#$% Is Going On?
Old Master Q, Magic Power, 1970. From the selling exhibition Old Master Q: What The @#$% Is Going On?

Over the past year, we collaborated closely with Joseph Wong and the Old Master Q team to organise this exhibition. Every meeting has been filled with joy. We could not help but study Wong’s original works over and over again, often bursting into roaring laughter. We express our sincere gratitude to Alphonso Wong, a comic artist who makes us proud and brings us so much joy and sweet memories. Our heartfelt thanks go to Joseph and the Studio for making this exhibition possible.

The exhibition will include an interactive digital installation Star In Your Very Own Old Master Q Comic Strip, provided by Live Communications agency Uniplan, which turns visitors into Old Master Q characters. As part of the opening events, we have organised a panel discussion featuring a stellar line-up of guest speakers including son of Alphonso Wong, Joseph Wong, art critic and writer Evelyn Char, collector and Co-Chair of Para/Site Art Space, Alan Lau Ka Ming, as well as Yeung Wai Pong, an expert on the art of comics who has contributed an insightful essay to this catalogue. At the opening party, Domting will offer his fresh interpretation of music from the 1960s and 1970s with contemporary beats. We are very grateful for the participation and support of the art communities. We hope that this exhibition will give us a better understanding of Alphonso Wong’s work and highlight the significance of comics and the important role they play in art and popular culture.

From 9 to 29 August, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery presents “Old Master Q: What The @#$% Is Going On? Original Works by Alphonso Wong”, the largest selling exhibition by the artist worldwide.