先生自少年仿寫柳帖，塗畫街景，顯露美術天份。小學時期初涉漫畫創作，中學時期專注寫生素描訓練，泛讀中外文學名著。大學時期應《河北畫報》約寫藝術評論，應邀主持暑期少年美術課程，創作獨幕話劇《大師卜勞恩》劇本，并於校園成功演出。「文革」時期，因兄長的「台灣問題」被禁止發表作品，先後從事搬運、送貨、裝訂、修堤、挖河、鉗工等工作。曾受大字報圍攻， 被視為暗藏的「階級敵人」。1968 年被入戶通宵搜查「反動罪証」，作品大部損毀或丟失。但始終不為所屈，反而加倍堅持書畫、文學創作，與畫友結伴寫生，研究西方現代藝術。
Art Journey of Mr. Tsui Tsuen Kam (Xú Chuàn Xīn)
Lai Kei / Visual Art, Magazine Columnist
Tsui is an extraordinary painter, art critic and writer. He is a native of Tianjin, China.
Tsui was born in Xi’an in 1942. During his childhood, he lived in various places, such as Xuzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiaoshan and Shanghai for a short stay. Until he moved to Tianjin, where he studied and lived there for 30 years. Tsui graduated from the Department of Sculpture of Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts.
Tsui’s grandfather Xu Wanqing worked in the Bei Yang Machinery Manufacturing Bureau, who assisted Zhan Tianyou in constructing the Lanzhou-Lianyungang Railway, and became the first station manager of Xi’an Station. Tsui’s father Xu Baolin was the director of the Railway Materials Bureau, graduated from Tianjin Fahan School (i.e. School of “Franco-Chinois”)( 天津法漢學校), who translated French novels and were published in Tianjin Ta Kung Pao (大公報) and Yi Shi Bao (益世報). Tsui’s elder brothers Xu Peiming and Xu Chuanming moved to Taiwan during the Civil War.
Early Days in China
Tsui began studying classic Chinese calligraphy at his teenage, mainly imitated the master Liu Gongquan. He also liked to paint the street scenery, in which, his talent for art was revealed. He was interested in comic creation in elementary school. Later, he shifted to focus on sketching, as well as extensive reading of Chinese and foreign literature in secondary school. He was invited to write art commentary in “Hebei Pictorial” (河北畫報) when he was studying at the academy. He was also invited to host the summer art course for youth and to write drama script of the one-act play of “Master E. O. Plauen”, which successfully performed on campus. Unfortunately, he was banned from publishing works due to his elder brothers association with “Threat of Taiwan” during the Cultural Revolution. Since then, he had worked in many fields, including transport, delivery, binding, repairing dyke, digging river, and machine repairment, etc.
Tsui experienced the attack of “Big-Character Posters”, because he was targeted as a covert “Enemy of the People.” In 1968, he was investigated and his home was searched overnight for “reactionary evidence“. Most of his works were damaged or lost in this incident. However, he never yielded to fate. He adhered to practising painting and calligraphy, literary writing, sketching with his friends and studying Western modern art.
In 1974, the Cultural Revolution ended, Tsui joined the Tianjin Branch of the Chinese Artists Association and the Tianjin Branch of the Chinese Writers Association. He actively participated in Tianjin Art Association’s printmaking group. His black and white woodcut artwork “Strict Teacher“, was published in Tianjin Literature magazine and People’s Daily. Another black and white woodcut “Searching” was published and issued as national subscription advertisement in the Tianjin Literature magazine. “Searching” was discovered and reprinted by People’s Daily. In the same period, he created woodcuts such as “Production of Steel”, “First Snow”, “Female Welder”, “Before Handover”, etc. In the peak period of his artistic creation, there are eleven comics published by Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Jilin presses. These comics include “Wisely Fighting Devils Soldier”, “Leading Cow In Spring”, “Rainbow”, “Little Guerrilla”, ” Gate of Grass “, “Italian Lady”, “Judge and Executioner”, etc. Tsui involved in multiple illustrations for major newspapers, magazines and publishers.
Migrated to Hong Kong
In 1982, Tsui migrated to Hong Kong. He worked as a designer of the China Advertising Company and the Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited Company. Tsui was devoted in figure painting, as well as illustrations for more than ten publishing houses in Mainland China and Hong Kong. At the same time, he engaged in teaching and art critique.
Experiences and works
Tsui’s articles were published in Ta Kung Pao, Hong Wen Wei Po, Xpressions: A Bilingual Cultural Bi-Weekly Magazine in Hong Kong, Taipei Great News, China Shu Hua Bao (Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Newspapers in China), ART, Artists Communication. His published articles in these newspapers and periodicals totaled more than 200,000 words.
In 1985, he planned to publish the magazine “World Pictorial” in Mainland China. In 1992, he was invited to establish “Chunghwa Pictorial Review” in Taiwan. Unfortunately, both projects were end in smoke.
In 1999, he founded Visual Art quarterly magazine in Hong Kong, recording the outstanding contemporary Chinese painters, calligraphers and artworks of Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas. This magazine is praise highly among Chinese artists from local and afar. In 2009, Tsui awarded the funding from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, he published a collection of art critique in a book called “Observation of ArtWaves“.
In 2012, Visual Art magazine collected 46 volumes and published a limited edition of one hundred print set worldwide.
In recent years, Tsui creates a Facebook page: Yee Ming Art Critic. It serves as a discussion forum for art reviews and comments on Cross Strait, East and West, with influential status.
In 2008, Tsui’s figure painting “Morning Exercise” was selected into the Worldwide Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Exhibition for Celebrating Olympic. In 2009, the figure painting “Festival” was invited to exhibit in the 10th anniversary of Reunification of Macau: International Painting and Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition.
In 2011, Tsui’s figure painting, “Eliminating Evils till the Sword was Damaged” was invited to participate in the 2nd International Painting and Calligraphy Development Forum (Taipei, Taiwan): Worldwide Famous Painting and Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition.
In 2012, Tsui’s figure painting “Sharing of Meat” was invited to exhibit in the Cross Strait Four Regions Famous Paintings and Calligraphy Exhibitions (Shenzhen, China). Another figure painting “Excessive” was invited to be exhibited at the first International Painting and Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition (Tianjin, China) in the same year. During this period, he was awarded the title of International Outstanding Contributions to Painters and Calligraphers, Outstanding Contribution to the International Development of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy and Excellent Art Critic. He was selected as one of the top ten Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Important Person 2014 by media.
Tsui’s Art Pursuit
In the 1960s, Tsui’s coloured woodcut “The Bells” reflects concerns about major events of the era, while his black and white woodcut “Searching” and “Strict Teacher” echo his philosophical pursuit. Further, his ink painting “Looking For Sword“, “Autumn Essence“, “Excessive” involve critique of reality, his figural painting, such as Zhong Kui, Luohan (Arhat), musician, poor people, young children, horses, fat pigs, embody the new and creative attempt in artistic them. He adopted the Chinese ink painting and Western realism painting tradition and made his works a unique aesthetic expression.
Gradually, his painting becomes less appealing and functional, not pleasing to others, and even not catering to the market. This is the result significantly caused by Tsui’s artistic cultivation and life experience. Especially in his early 30 years, stress and defense has created great dilemmatic forces in his life. This period not only strengths his perseverance and enriches his experiences, but also prompts him to write a memoir of “Washing Foot Water”. On the Facebook page, he frequently makes comments on the art and never hesitates to speak up, as well as explore new artistic ideas. His concise and succinct writings, combined with a strong spirit and positive attitude, bring him to an extraordinary level and turn to a new chapter.
As a visiting professor at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts and chief editor of Visual Art magazine, Tsui always emphasises teaching knowledge, sharing experience, and fostering new talents. Apart from collaborating with China Shu Hua Bao in holding Hong Kong-Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition in Hong Kong for ten years consecutively, he actively teaches at Academy of Fine Arts, giving lectures to the Polytechnic Institute and College of Art in Mainland, China.
In Hong Kong, Tsui offers ink painting (figure) course at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Sometimes, he meets with readers for discussions and interacting with each other. Specifically, he set up a special column in Visual Art magazine to publish works of new artists.
In a nutshell, Tsui never forgets the mother’s kindness in his upbringing. He always upholds the willpower of men seriously in the heart. This is the reason why he can establish the Visual Art magazine by oneself for 20 years, and not difficult to understand his motives in writing and painting for decades. Tsui’s hard work and great efforts reveal his spiritual strength and noble spirit that light up his path continuously.
Translated by Snowy, Hei LAM