Expression of love and affection - Lam Tianxing’s art of painting


Shao Dazhen

Central Academy of Art

Chinese Artists of Today》 Published in 2008


I have been watching Lam’s art for more than a decade.  His works have appeared in many exhibitions in China and overseas, some of them solo exhibitions. 


I have been to his studio in Hong Kong; like his personality, his works display a strong contrast of passion and rationale.  Lam is not talkative.  He is down-to-earth and steady, yet willing to take risks when circumstances arise.  He is a serious artist.  His works are well planned yet unconventional, always expressive.  His dual personalities give his art a unique character—innovative while greatly respectful of tradition.


In his 1998 publication ‘Vision, Hong Kong’, Lam said in his article Visions,“We are living in a multi-cultural era. Everything has lost its original meaning and grows in fusions.  It is a mistake to defend tradition at the expense of new ideas, which will only produce relics.”


Lam has made himself very clear that he respects the tradition on which he builds up his skill, but when he comes across new subject matter, his desire to express the reality will push him to surpass convention in search of new expressions and skills. 


There is a need to explore aesthetic experiences that will suit our era.  Lam once said, ‘Like revolutionists, we must be able to take risks in search of mystic phenomenon and power in order to wake our intuition and artistic inner self.  We must abandon all concepts, formalizing our feelings and figurative ideas, in order to achieve the reality of spirituality.’


Lam’s statement shows two things. First, it is from his experience and continuous practice that he has come to such realization. Second, he is disappointed with the academicism of the Chinese art world that judges all artwork with the formalism of the Southern Painting School. 


Lam is not the only radical.  Lam and many of his fellow artists believe that traditional techniques in Chinese Brush Painting are not enough to convey the metropolitan vision and life of our era. New media, techniques and visual languages are all necessary for that.  Lam doggedly explores artistic possibilities to represent phenomena of our daily life.


Lam began to study Chinese and Western paintings in his early years. He has come under the guidance of masters such as Wu Gouguang, Lin Guang, Chen Ting and Liu Mu.  He then graduated from the Chinese Painting Department of Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1990. He was trained extensively in both Chinese and Western traditions and has become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.  Lam keeps a constant watch on the western art world and has a wide perspective.  With his knowledge and experience he believes that the Chinese and Western art share many common languages and techniques, which artists may adopt freely to represent their feelings of the objective world.


Lam has published many art albums, none of which are under the genre of Chinese Painting.  He has abandoned the convention of the Southern Painting School, but one can easily see the influence of traditional Chinese art, for example in his use of the multi-point perspective and the colours of ancient mural painting as well as the linear and calligraphic qualities of the South Painting School.   On the other hand Lam has also adopted the western way of constructing a composition with shapes and abstract visual elements.  Such fusion of knowledge, techniques and skills gives Lam’s art a unique character.  He has become such a master of this style that he can freely express himself in any subject matter.  His achievement is the result of his love and passion for art.  He has realized the true spirit of traditional


Chinese Brush Painting.


It is said, ‘Professionals aim high.’ Lam is one of those professionals.  His pursuit of knowledge and skills helps him create artwork of surpassing qualities.   Lam has created three series of artworks, the first called Vision-- Hong Kong, followed by Tibet andLotus.  Each one of them shows a better grasp of visual languages and techniques.  As the artist’s experience grows with his age, his artwork shows a stronger personalities and deeper cultural reference. 


Lam is open-minded and willing to learn.  He is never satisfied with his achievement or the applause he has received. 

He has even taken many harsh and dangerous journeys to Tibet to do location sketches.  He has made a long scroll and many colour studies, all displaying the artist’s talent, imagination and creativity, a result of his hard work and strong mind. 


Lam puts much emphasis in sketching with which he records both his feeling and the scene.  According to Wang Guowei, the former is subjective but the latter is objective.  Many of Lam’s sketches are subjective.  In his Lotus series, many paintings represent the childhood memory of his favourite flower, the admiration of Mt. Lotus in his homeland, his nostalgic feeling on a demolished lotus pond, his happy trips to watch the lotus in Taiwan and Yuanan, the white lotus in the New Territories in Hong Kong…


His paintings represent the feelings of his life, his emotions, his praises to love and passion.  His Lotus series is poetic and philosophical.  It displays his thoughts on nature, and most precious of all his love and passion towards life.  Love and passion is the motivation and goal of all artistic creativity—the goal of Lam’s persistent pursuit.