"In the decade between 1984 and 1994, I practically stopped photographing and devoted myself to studying Chinese painting, calligraphy and classical literature. This cultivation has helped build up my own aesthetics and has proved to be very beneficial to my future artistic creation. During this period, I was fascinated with and greatly inspired by the uniqueness, vigour and simplicity that mark the art of the Chinese painting master Zhu Qizhan (1892-1996) besides his ingenuity with light and colour.


My appointment as advisor on modern Chinese painting and calligraphy to the Hong Kong Museum of Art since 1990 has led to my identification with the spirit of Chinese painting and calligraphy. What is more, I have come to realize that abstract art did not originate in the West after all. For instance, the Tang monk Huaisu from the 8th century was highly abstract in his wild cursive script and Monk Muxi from the 13th century perfectly wedded the figurative with the abstract in his six persimmons in ink. Spiritually, Chinese painting prioritizes "taking the likeness of unlikeness as the true likeness", which agrees more with Laozi's notion regarding the beauty of ambiguity:


Who can of Dao the nature tell?
Our sight it flies, our touch as well.
Eluding sight, eluding touch,
The forms of things all in it crouch;
Eluding touch, eluding sight,
There are their semblances, all right.


Resuming photography in 1995, I have come to understand through countless shootings that a vast territory exists between the figural and the abstract in the art of photography. There is much to savour in the ambiguous when the image, elusive and ethereal, is actually a vehicle for emotions. In art, I pursue a realm: Look at mountains and see mountains; look at mountains and see no mountains; and look at mountains and see nothing but mountains. The ultimate beauty of man and nature as one is achieved when deep emotions are naturally fused with our works to the extent of oblivion in the process of creation."

 

Leo K. K. Wong