Ng Powan loved nature. As a child growing up in Guangdong's Taishan, he loved roaming alone through its mountains and open spaces, and as an artist, rural villages were always a source of inspiration. After moving to Hong Kong, he felt a strong attraction to the verdant hills and sweet waters of Sha Tin and the New Territories,
where he created a series of the landscape paintings. This sale features three works from around 1960 that provide glimpses of the changes in Ng's painting style during that period. Ng Powan was an artist of intense creativity whose stylistic development took several interesting turns during his long career. Before 1950 he focused on a realist style with echoes of Rembrandt; later, under the influence of the British landscape artist Corot, he gradually abandoned his classical palette and the earlier Rembrandt-like chiaroscuro effects in favor of layerings of soft color, while tending toward the use of brighter, more cheerful tones. Junks (Lot 669) is a work from this period in which Ng applies flowing strokes of thick color with a saturated brush, producing rich, gorgeous color effects and a deeply textured canvas. In Reflection (Lot 670), rich, heavy color is also employed for the trees and vegetation, resulting in an exceptional sense of vivid detail. Ng Powan's style underwent a clear transition in the 1960s. His 1963 Countryside (Lot 668) depicts a harborside scene using black lines suggestive of Chinese calligraphy but applied with discontinuous strokes. The textures Ng creates using a palette knife and hard-bristled brush enhance the illusion of three-dimensional space in the painting, while the downward-looking vantage point is a technique borrowed from traditional Chinese landscapes to produce an extra sense of breadth and depth and allow viewers to easily take in the whole scene. It was this ability to create intriguing combinations of Eastern and Western stylistic elements that produced the distinctive expressive vocabulary of Ng's art. Ng Powan believed that the style of Chinese art did not result from its subjects or the media employed, but from features that grew out of its unique brushwork and sense of composition. He therefore employed lines and brushwork borrowed from traditional Chinese painting, as well as its use of empty spaces and broad views from above through which he felt Western oil painting techniques could produce art expressing a Chinese character. Ng's work often has the fresh clarity and detached viewpoint of the ancient Chinese literati painters; his brushwork is concise, flexible, and imbued with feeling, and his beautiful carefully managed color never becomes gaudy or garish. Ng's landscapes always seem much more than mere portrayal; with their special colors and compositions and their lively, succinct brushstrokes they bring nature itself onto the canvas and his bright and beautiful views of nature never fail to induce feelings of delight.