Exhibition of Master Au's Chinese paintings


The Pacific Heritage Museum is proud to present a yearlong exhibition of Master Au Ho-Nien's most representational works spanning more than five decades.


Born in 1935 in China's southern province of Kwangtung, Master Au received extensive education in Chinese culture and avidly studied various styles and techniques from the paintings collected by his intellectual family. At the age of seventeen, he became a student of Zhao Chao Nien, a renowned grand master of the Lingnan School of painting, and just three years later, Au Ho-Nien emerged as the grand master of the Lingnan School of Painting with hundreds of students studying art with him. At the age of thirty-five, Master Au was invited to teach at the prestigious National Chinese Cultural University in Taiwan where he continues to teach today.


Master Au combines elements of traditional Chinese painting with western perspective, chiaroscuro, and color schemes. The traditional Chinese principles of "broken line" and "dry brush" harmonize with the sumptuous fields of water and pigment application. Mountains, magnificent landscapes, and stoic animals invite the viewer to partake in the beauty of the natural world. Master Au further expands the realistic renditions of nature via the literary themes and poetic inscriptions. Classical Chinese culture of the literati is skillfully evoked through carefully chosen themes of man communing with nature. In fact, nature figures largely in Master Au's work. He says, "Art shows an interactive relationship between humans and nature," and he insists that Nature is his best teacher because it forces him to rely on his own intelligence.


Following the traditions of the Lingnan School, Master Au is an acute observer of nature; he works in the open air and transcribes the vitality and beauty of the organic world, which he later refines in the studio. The mild palette and naturalistic depiction of nature complement his strong feeling for space and compositional arrangement. Like the ancient Chinese masters, Master Au conveys an atmosphere of emptiness and spirituality via the simplicity or subtlety of the background. The empty spaces in his paintings masterfully combine with the painted images, creating a Ying yang harmony of visual contentment.


Master Au is also a superb calligrapher and a poet. His forceful brush strokes reveal another aspect of the artistic creativity and vision that has always been important to the Chinese artist. The "humanistic spirit" of combining literary themes, poetry, and philosophy can be clearly seen in his elegant paintings. Many of his art works bear a poetic inscription to further guide the viewer in understanding the meaning of the painted image. They also reveal a little more of the artist's intentions and the complexity of the creative process that art always involves.


Master Au continues to experiment and use innovative techniques, which support his evolutionary status not only as a Lingnan artist, but also, as a universal painter. Master Au's genuine search for new ways of expressing and communicating the real and the artistic world is clearly manifested via the diversity of his ink paintings.