Changing Interpretation of Shanshui: Contemporary Art in Hong Kong

Dr Hung Sheng1

1Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Shanshui (literally mountain water) as a subject matter has been a significant category in the development of classical Chinese painting. The earliest reference of shanshui can be traced to painting treatise in the fourth century, however it only blossomed in the tenth century. Physical resemblance of nature was not the first priority of the ancient Chinese shanshui painters, but the spirit of the nature which was very much related to Chinese philosophy. The term “shanshui” is still widely used in the contemporary Chinese art scene, yet there are discrepancies between its ancient and contemporary understanding. This paper will focus on a group of Hong Kong contemporary artists, such as Lam Tung Pang (1978 – ), Koon Wai Bong (1974 – ) and Leung Kui Ting (1945 – ) to explore the interpretation of shanshui in the twenty-first century. How do they perceive shanshui compared to the ancient painters? How do they reflect their perceptions in their artworks?


Hung received her PhD in Visual Studies from Lingnan University in 2017. She has taught part-time at i-dArt, Lingnan University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on the history and aesthetics of twentieth-century Chinese and Hong Kong art as well as art education in different settings.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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