Published: January 8, 2002
NEW YORK CITY – Spanierman Gallery, LLC will open, on January 10, “Paul Ching-Bor: – New York Bridgescapes and Cityscapes.”
The exhibition comprises 22 works and introduces a Chinese-born watercolorist whose dynamic images of New York’s Queens-borough Bridge and its steel pylons and structural underpinnings constitute a powerful artistic statement and represents a bold new exploration of the medium.
Born in 1963 in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the capital of the province of Guangdong, Paul Ching-Bor knew that he wanted to become an artist from his earliest days. After receiving a traditional art education in China, he made the bold choice to move to Sydney, Australia, in 1987. In the nine years that followed, he focused on creating watercolors, frequently portraying the sub-urban neighborhood in which his studio was situated.
In 1996, Ching-Bor was able to realize a long-held desire to move to New York.
“When I first walked down the streets of Manhattan I was curious about the impact this strident city and the jostling crowds would have on my work,” Ching-Bor recalled. “The structures, arches and bridges immediately inspired me, and particularly suited my limited color palette. My favorite colors are black and white, and I found I was able to tackle New York subjects in a very free way that, in the early stages, suggests abstract painting.”
Indeed, the art with which Ching-Bor finds the greatest connection is that of the New York School Abstract Expressionists, especially Franz Kline. In the works of Kline, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and other artists of the era, Ching-Bor found amazing parallels with the theories of ancient Chinese scroll painters, a coalescence that has inspired his own personal blend of Eastern and Western approaches.
In response to New York, Ching-Bor’s art evolved. He began to work on a big scale, using the largest and heaviest papers that he could find. Rather than wetting his papers before painting on them, he simply started to paint, moving the papers from the easel to the floor when they got too wet to stand by themselves.
His process involves laying down the fundamental part of the painting, which is the structure of the work. He then proceeds to glaze and splash paint on the paper until the image disappears. When the work dries, “the image bounces back. Then I look at it again,” says the artist, “and I push from there to my own realm.”
Through this method, Ching-Bor has reconsidered the qualities of watercolor that are often through to be intrinsic to the medium, such as sensitivity, delicacy and spontaneity. His approach is robust and strong; at the same time, the works have a quiet intensity in their haunting and stark qualities.
Through painting urban architecture, Ching-Bor has found a vehicle for expressing the city’s intensity, loneliness, ambition and drive. Lately the subject that has gripped him the most is the Queensborough Bridge at 59th Street and the East River, a short walk from his home and studio. Like John Marin, who painted dynamic, sparkling watercolors of the Brooklyn Bridge that expressed the vitality of New York from the 1910s, Ching-Bor uses the bridge as an expressive form.
For him, however, the bridge is less a symbolic motif than a plan or form that coalesces with his subconscious and direct responses to the city. The dark, heavy surfaces, pierced with soft, streaked and glimmering light, and the vertical thrusts, countered by plunging diagonals, are diagrams of the city as much as of the human psyche.
Ching-Bor began his images of steel structures in late 1996. These works are in tune with the rhythm of this time of defiance, tension and gritty realism. At the same time, they are self-referential, reflecting Ching-Bor’s very personal response to his surroundings.
The gallery is at 45 East 58th Street; hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. The exhibition runs through February 2.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm