Sculpture (metal, wood, granite)

Cheung Yee

Hong Kong

Cheung Yee was born in 1936 Canton and graduated in 1958 from Fine Art of Taiwan Normal University.

He moved to work in Hong Kong in the early 1960s. A grant from Institute of International Education in 1965, let him to visit museums and meet artists in USA and Europe. He has had successful individual shows in USA, London, Manila and of course Hong Kong, and also many group exhibitions in Hong Kong and abroad.

In the first dozen or more years of his career, as though the memory of his earlier life was no insistent and difficult to subdue, the ancient sculptures he twisted, pinched and crushed in his artistic vision were reborn in objects also of cast-bronze (sometimes of beaten copper and aluminum, when lack of funds forced him to resort these frailer mediums).

But the fullness and vigor in Cheung's sculptures did not come from their retention, if in Picasso or Francis Bacon made, of the original shapes of tortoises, dragons and masks of Shang bronzes.

Rather, reflections of Freud and Jung, but none of Confucius, radiated from Cheung Yee's creations. He also worked in granite and wood during the early 1958-73 phase. Also he had made prints. All of these were, in comparison with his later works, small pieces. the largest being only about two feet high.

Working at first in cluttered workshop in Hong Kong's pastoral New Territories, he moved in the early 1970s to another quite area, village in Clearwater Bay on Hong Kong Island.

While steadily building reputation among Southeast Asian artists and art-lovers, and soon enough among British, then Japanese and European, and later American collectors, Cheung Yee was tormented by constraints (mainly financial) that made it impossible for him to create sculptures of epic proportions in bronze, granite and wood.

From 1973 onward, however, the accolades he had won, coupled with the increasing force of his inner urges for more gigantic expressions, pushed him to risk making larger investment on his materials.

He has since then been casting larger bronzes and making truly massive wooden sculptures, some as tall and thrice as wide as apartment doors. He has also been working in larger pieces of granite, especially chosen for their natural colors and grain.

Cheung Yee has slowly turned away in his wood sculptures, from the stark black (which he used to burn into the wood) to studied appreciation of the wood's natural colors and grains. He chose woods with dark brown and black patterns, which were consistent with the resurrection of the ancient Shang spirit he has never ceased seeking to voice in his works. The use of wood's colors is progression in Yee's art. In former works, he largely sought to release the forms he saw in old rootstocks and driftwoods.




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