Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Visual Studies

First Advisor

Prof. LAW Suk Mun Sophia

Second Advisor

Prof. HUANG Ying Ling


This research investigates the field of modern ink painting, in particular the advocacy of shuimohua (水墨畫, literally water ink painting) which appeared in Hong Kong in the mid-1960s. The research is based on textual materials such as artworks, writings, treatises, newspaper and periodical documentation, as well as interviews with artists or artists’ families.

Because of the emergence of numerous terms related to ink painting and ink art in recent decades, it is crucial to trace their origins in order to develop a foundation from which to understand the complexities of the field related to ink. The starting point chosen for this research is the 1960s in Hong Kong which was a period of in which Hong Kong enjoyed much greater freedom in the arts compared to the mainland China and Taiwan. This atmosphere of greater freedom nurtured various new directions for Chinese painting, including the advocacy of shuimohua initiated by Lui Shou Kwan (呂壽琨 1919–1975) who wrote and lectured extensively about his ideas on shuimohua.

The advocacy of shuimohua opened a host of possibilities and influenced Lui’s students and contemporaries. Lui stressed the value of sincerity, gen (根 root), shi (適 adaption), inner expression and innovation. Lui held that these are fluid concepts subjected to change according to individuals. Five artists, Hon Chi Fun (韓志勳b. 1922), Irene Chou (周綠雲 1924–2011), Wucius Wong (王無邪b. 1936), Kan Tai Keung (靳埭強b. 1942) and Leung Kui Ting (梁巨廷b. 1945) were selected to examine the impact of shuimohua. These artists are consistent with Lui’s ideas of a broader concept and vision of art, but they all developed their own visual language and style in their artistic paths. There is no evidence of a “Lui’s School” or stylistic resemblance.

Another advocate of modern ink painting Liu Kuo Sung (劉國松 b. 1932) and his students, in addition to modern ink painters overseas like Tseng Yuho (曾佑和b. 1924) are also explored to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the scene. Art with the media of ink, such as experimental ink painting, blossomed in mainland China in the 1980s. This research tries to touch upon the evolution and relationship between shuimohua and ink art.

Exploring the character of Lui’s advocacy of shuimohua and tracing the origin of terminology related to ink painting and ink art are small but necessary steps to further conversations about the development of ink today. This contributes an historical as well as a Hong Kong perspective that may provide insights into the modernization of ink painting in the larger context of Chinese painting.

Recommended Citation

Sheng, H. (2017). Hong Kong ink painting: Its role in the development of Chinese painting in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond (Doctor's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from