The early life of artist Ken “H. Leung” was permeated by uncertainty and change. Born in May of 1933, the young man lived with his family in Canton, otherwise known as Guangzhou, until the death of his father in 1945. Leung’s birth in 1933 coincided with the year in which Canton opened the Haizhu bridge, which according to authors Lynus Tan and Richard Glauert in an article for the website” lifeofguangzhou.com”, was built by a contractor from the United States to ease the process of transport across the delta area of the Pearl River. The bridge quickly became a fundamental part of life in this densely populated province of China—but despite its acceleration of commerce and development in the region, Leung prefers to share his memories of sampans nestling up to docks and shorelines untouched by modern commerce and pollution as he creates his oil paintings. Unlike the bridge’s role in moving productivity forward, Leung at times serves as our bridge back in time. He sometimes selects subject matter which hails from a different era; at others he treats modern subjects in a wash of idealized rainbow hues. The invasion by Japanese of Canton in approximately 1938 left a lasting impact upon the bridge due to bombing. This invasion also dramatically impacted the life of Leung, initiating a pattern of facing situations of uncertainty. Perhaps Leung’s artistic view was energized by a need to see the world in a more picturesque fashion and erase the damage wrought by bombs and invaders.
According to ArchNet website, archnet.org, “Guangzhou…was a starting point for the Spice Route, the maritime alternate to the Silk Road.” As a result, this area had early and regular interaction with foreign commerce and international trade, unlike other remote areas of China. Over the centuries, “the city was colonized by the British, the French and the Dutch.” Perhaps these global elements influenced H. Leung’s sense of proportion, light and composition…for surprisingly he is a self-taught artist. After the occupation by the Japanese and surrender in 1945, Leung moved to Hong Kong to live with relatives due to the death of his father. One can get a sense of how momentous the Japanese surrender was in his young life in the movie “Japanese Surrender of Hong Kong” archived at the website “colonialfilm.org” as well as see glimpses of the destruction and remaining rubble in which H. Leung lived. It is no wonder that he chose to paint landscapes of a more colorful and peaceful ambience. However, Hong Kong did not gain true independence after the Japanese surrender; it continued to operate under British rule.
Leung married and started his family in British-controlled Hong Kong. Yet the turbulence of his youth in mainland China was followed by the chaos of transitional leadership as the Cultural Revolution ended and Deng Xia Ping took power. In 1978, as the reforms following the death of Chairman Mao began to take effect, H. Leung seized an opportunity to move to the United States and in 1979 he proudly became a citizen of the USA, leaving behind the tumultuous environment of China, but bringing with him his unique talent for oil painting and his memories of or his longing for a more halcyon setting. His family accompanied him. Together, safe on the shores of the United States, they watched yet another intriguing change of power when, in 1997, the British complied with a 1984 treaty and handed over Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty as described in the website city-data.com. As the region of his birth and youth struggles yet again with issues of transitional power, Leung concentrates his talents on bringing to life wonderful scenes, often of islands and villages conducting simple everyday business, unblemished by the vagaries of politics and power struggles.
Many collectors seek the work of H. Leung yet their reasons vary. For some, his multinational perspective is most compelling. For others, they love the genres of Fine Art in which he works. For all, his ability to transport the viewer to another place and time, to silence the noise and bustle which surround our daily lives, provides the gift of serenity. At FineArt360 it is fundamentally our pleasure to represent the work of H. Leung