Irene Chou was a student of Lui Shou Kwan, and one of the founders of the two leading artist associations in Hong Kong—the In Tao Art Association and the One Art Group. She was born in Shanghai, and graduated from St. John University in 1945. Chou worked as a journalist for Peace Daily Shanghai until she and her husband left for Taipei, and later for Hong Kong in 1949. Chou was a student of Zhao Shao’ang and was formally trained in the Lingnan School. During her distinguished career, Chou won many awards including the Urban Council Fine Arts Award in 1983.
Chou’s breakthrough from traditional Chinese painting and in particular the Lingnan School came when she met Lui Shou Kwan in the late 1960s and became student of the new ink art master. Her signature, most recognizable imageries are often dark, complex compositions that compel viewers to enter her state of mind whilst creating the paintings. Chou was inspired by the quote “The Universe is my mind; my mind is the Universe”, taken from the writings of Chinese philosopher Lu Jiuyan and her works often reflect this sentiment. In the 1970s, she experienced a temporary melancholic state and devoted her time to cultivate her own “piled ink” technique. Since 1980s, Chou’s works have become bold and more energetic, often with a sense of primordial creation and cosmic vision. Rebirth is her favoured subject matter, and images that resemble the uterus and the foetus along with burgeoning roots in a black background appear frequently in her work.
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