George Chann (Chen Yenpi)
B. China, 1913-1995
Portrait of a Boy
Signed “GEO. CHANN” on lower left
Oil on canvas
49 x 38 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Singapore
lllustrated on page 300 of Christie’s Hong Kong (29 November 2015) Asian 20th Century Art Day Sale (Sale 3452) catalogue – Lot 593
RM 10,000 – RM 18,000
George Chann was born in Canton, China in 1913 and at age twelve, he emigrated with his father to California. With a solid training in Impressionist techniques, Chann painted poor blacks, Chinese, and Mexicans, especially the aged and the orphaned. He is best known for Chinese calligraphy-incorporated abstract expressionist paintings, which he began producing in the ‘50s.
His own art gallery displayed not only his own work, but also jewelry and Chinese artifacts, including calligraphy and rubbings taken from oracle bones, bronze vessels and steles. Chann worked every day at the easel in the back room of his shop for 40 years, though he sold little of his work. After he died in 1995, his social realist paintings gained recognition.
Through the use of various media, Chann achieved to give a balanced combination of formal visual components and textural physical patterns, to effectively tap the charm and tension inherent in each material and the myriad associations triggered by various written characters and symbols. George Chann’s later abstract paintings demonstrate his keen sense of color and capacity for creating order out of chaos, while at the same time proving the meticulous yet nevertheless lyrical artistic qualities of a pure abstract painter.