Luis Chan was born in Panama and moved to Hong Kong in 1910. He spent his early days working as a typist in a law firm and designing fonts for a ferry boat company. A self-taught artist who painted in his spare time, Chan’s passion eventually led him to learn western painting techniques through a correspondence course from the Press Art School in London. He also joined the pre-eminent western art society, the Hong Kong Arts Club. He was the chairman of the Hong Kong Art Society, and founded the Chinese Contemporary Artists’ Guild in 1960, where he hoped to unite Chinese artists with Contemporary art. He was also a prolific writer and his writings were often published in various magazines and newspapers.
Nicknamed “King of Watercolour”, Chan’s early style in the late 1920s manifests his superb skill in the medium and his liking of painting landscape based on his encounter with contemporary British Landscape works. By the mid-1960s, Chan’s style transformed completely as a result of his experimentation with Surrealist automatist method. His paintings are imaginative dreamlike scenarios filled with strange creatures and different kinds of fishes. Chan’s artistic language does not concern so much with being western or eastern, but rather he emphasized on the imagination brought to his works. Chan’s paintings are often presented in a spectrum of kaleidoscopic range of fantastical colours, and are teeming with childlike whimsy.
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