Professor Wucius Wong is one of the most internationally celebrated modern ink painters. His work exudes a flair of modernist aesthetics within the long-standing Chinese ink painting tradition as he ventured into a broad range of experiments to establish ink painting as an important trend in the contemporary world-wide art scene. Before he decided to become an artist, he was active in the post-war literary circle in Hong Kong as a young poet. He founded the Modern Literature and Art Association in 1958, and planned the First Hong Kong International Salon of Paintings which opened in early 1961. Thereafter he left Hong Kong for the U.S. to study at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and later at Maryland Institute College of Art working towards a Master Degree of Fine Arts.
Returning to Hong Kong in 1965, Professor Wong first worked at the Department of Extramural Studies of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he started the Certificate Course in Applied Design which was the first long-term design course of its kind in Hong Kong. In 1967, he moved to the City Museum and Art Gallery at the City Hall, working as Assistant Curator, and in 1974, he joined the Hong Kong Polytechnic (predecessor of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University) as Senior Lecturer of the Design Department to teach graphic design, and was promoted to Principal Lecturer of the then Swire School of Design two years later, to coordinate the foundation year and evening courses.
Professor Wong stayed at the Polytechnic for a period of ten years, continuing to paint and write in his spare time, authoring books on design theories to sum up his insights in design teaching. In 1984, he emigrated to the United States to develop himself as a full-time artist, while still continued to write books, in English, on design which were published in America, with editions in Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian and Vietnamese languages.
In 1996, Professor Wong moved back to Hong Kong. He was conferred the Hong Kong Arts Development Council’s Emeritus Fellowship in 1998, presented a retrospective exhibition of his work by the Hong Kong Museum of Art in 2006, and received the Bronze Bauhinia Star of the Hong Kong SAR Government in 2007. He was invited as Artist-in-Residence by PolyU and presented his retrospective at the Innovation Tower on campus in 2016.
Since his return to Hong Kong, Professor Wong has been museum expert adviser to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in Hong Kong. Currently he is adjunct professor of the Fine Arts Department of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Committee Member of the Chinese Ink Painting Institute in Beijing, Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Ink Painting Institute in Hong Kong, and Committee Member of the Hong Kong Chinese Artists Association.
Professor Wong was born in Humen at the mouth of the Pearl River, but grew up in Hong Kong where he saw the Japanese invasion. After the war, he received a bilingual education, but took lessons of Chinese classical literature and calligraphy outside the school, and studied Chinese painting after graduation. As an artist, with the foundation on Chinese culture, he explores his way by crossing the East and West cultures, featuring in his work streams, rivers, lakes, rapids and falls, seas and oceans, to generate a mysterious mood reflecting the feelings of a wanderer living most of his life outside the homeland, which provokes thoughts and emotions from viewers.
Chairman Chan, University Council Members, President Tong and Honoured Guests,
As a recipient of this fellowship today, I feel immensely grateful, and greatly honoured, for this really marks a highlight in my life, and further strengthens my relationship with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Looking back forty-three years from now, I joined the teaching staff of the newly established Hong Kong Polytechnic in the what was called Swire School of Design, and spent a total of 10 years. I taught graphic design, and then moved on to manage the foundation programme and develop evening classes. Polytechnic was like a home to me.
Last year, PolyU’s Culture Promotion Committee invited me to participate in its Artist-in-Residence programme, and presented a retrospective exhibition of my paintings at the Jockey Club Innovation Tower on campus. This made me feel coming back home. The underlying theme of the exhibition is wui (回), which expresses several meanings, such as looking back, returning, and remembering.
I have been away, from the Polytechnic, and from Hong Kong, for some time. Now my link with PolyU is re-established. Thank you.