A Brief Sketch of the Artist
Chow Poon-Kuen was raised in Hong Kong, with family roots in the Dong Guan District of Guangdong Province, China. Her grandfather, Chow Hung Kwong, was a person of great accomplishment, well versed in military strategy and martial arts. He participated in the Imperial Examinations during the reign of Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing Dynasty, and returned home with imperial awards for martial honours. As a result, the Chow family and their heritage have been highly respected in their native land.
Chow Poon-Kuen received her formal education in Hong Kong, where she graduated from the Grantham College of Education and Wah Kiu College. She was both talented and eager to learn. For many years she studied the art of painting under Professor Zhao Shao’ang, the contemporary grand master of the Lingnan School of art. Through years of practice and observation, she mastered the technique and style developed by her teacher, especially in the painting of fish, insects, birds, animals, flowers and landscapes.
Professor Zhao, who was the successor to Gao Qifeng (one of the founders of Lingnan School), was a world-renowned artist. Despite his great achievements, he was never satisfied in restricting himself to a particular style of painting or confining himself to the realism and detail typical of the classical school. He studied different schools of painting and embraced the best influences from both Eastern and Western art, thereby developing his own style. He pioneered the new impressionist movement in Chinese painting.
Realizing the importance of basic training for an artist, Chow Poon-Kuen worked hard to improve herself. Following her teacher’s advice, she began to travel and meet friends from abroad who shared similar interests in art. She also tried to broaden her horizons by exploring different schools of painting and studying prevailing trends in the field of art. The development of her career may be divided into three stages:
1. From 1963 to 1985, she took part in over 20 exhibitions in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. During this period of 23 years, her works were shown in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hawaii, Germany, etc. Her first solo exhibition was held at Hong Kong City Hall in 1979.
2. During the four-year period from 1986 to 1990, she held five solo exhibitions in such places as London (UK); Melbourne (Australia); Auckland (New Zealand); Kyoto (Japan) and Toronto (Canada). All exhibitions received very favorable feedback from art critics and the public.
3. She immigrated to Canada in 1994. She has since held two solo exhibitions: one in 1995 under the sponsorship of Simon Fraser University’s David See-Chai Lam Centre for International Communication; and another in 1997, sponsored by the University of Victoria, British Columbia. During the 1995-1998 period, her works were selected every year for the juried shows organized by the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA). The painting entitled “Kingfisher,” selected for the 1998 show, received an honours award.
In the winter of 1998, Canada Post invited her to produce two designs of orchids—Dragon’s Mouth Orchid and Greater Yellow Lady’s-slipper Orchid. These stamps were issued for the opening of the World Orchid Conference held in Vancouver in the spring of 1999. The stamp design was also shown at the International Stamp Exhibition held in Beijing, China.
In 2002, in conjunction with students under her tutorship, she mounted the exhibition of “Paintings of the Sound of Nature” at the Hong Kong Central Library.
Between 2011 and 2012, her lotus painting was selected to adorn the book cover of Professor Florence Yeh Chia-Ying’s selected poems, “Ode to Lotus,” and her two other books later published by the National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan.
In February of 2014, she held another exhibition, “Mystical Engagement with Blossoms,” at the Hong Kong Central Library. The exhibition was sponsored by the Xiang Yang Art and co-sponsored by David See-Chai Lam Centre for International Communication, Simon Fraser University, which also provided sponsorship for the publication of the souvenir catalogue.
After her immigration to Vancouver, Chow Poon-Kuen has immersed herself in the enjoyment of all things that Mother Nature has to offer: flowers and birds, mountains and streams, as well as wind and snow. She also experiments with the painting of North American flowers like orchid, wisteria, iris, sunflower and hibiscus and gradually evolves a style of her own.
Chow’s works have been collected by the National Museum of History, the Republic of China; Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada; the Hong Kong Heritage Museum; the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, University of Victoria, Canada; Hunan Huang He Lou Museum, Hunan, China; the Tin-tan Buddha Collection, Hong Kong, as well as numerous other organizations and private art collectors.