Tina Keng Gallery

George Chann
1913-1995
Born in Guangdong, China

 


Born in Guangdong’s Chungshan county, George Chann left for the US at the age of 12 with his father after finishing middle school in China. In 1934, he attended the Aldiss Institute of Art in Los Angeles; he earned his master’s degree in fine arts in 1940. Chann had his first solo exhibition the following year at the California Art Club in Los Angeles. In 1942, at the recommendation of Roland Mckinney, the curator of the Los Angeles County Museum, Chann held an exhibition at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. From 1947 to 1949, he lived in mainland China, exhibiting at the Public Archives Museum in Guangzhou and in Shanghai. In 1950, he returned to the US and began to study abstract painting, and the next year, his works were showed with painters such as Van Gogh, Renoir and Chagall in an exhibition at the James Vigeveno Gallery. During 1969 to 1973, 50 pieces of his abstract works were exhibited at the invitation of the Pasadena Fine Arts Museum. Many of his works are currently in the permanent collections of various museums such as the Shanghai Art Museum and San Diego Museum of Art.


George Chann’s artistic career began in the early 1940’s, influenced by the school of Abstract Expressionism that contrasted sharply from the portrayals of regional life and social realism that characterized American art since the 1930s. Reflecting his compassion about the inequalities and hardships around him in American society during World War Ⅱ, Channs’ paintings were suffused with a great sympathy of humanism and concern for the good of the nation also point out his identity by merging elements of Chinese culture into Abstract Expressionist paintings. Chann returned to China in 1947, delving into calligraphy studies for a time with the Chinese artists Huang Junbi and Zhao Shao-ang, the chinese cultural background and outstanding traditional works of painting and calligraphy lead to the development of a new Chinese modern painting style. In early 1950s, Chann successfully developed his essential black and white abstract approach in works with a rich variety of materials and textures, which derived their inspiration from ancient artifacts and texts: the verdigris of corroded bronze, suggesting ancient civilization clouded in obscurity, or the spotty weathering of stone steles. 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. By this time, written words and symbols are no longer present, and the “writing” has become purer, freer, and more organic. In constant streams, or broken fragments, or perhaps overlapping and intermingling, diaphanous white lines wending through and around blasts of color, the complete communion of patches of color and shimmering lines, sing together like notes and melody.