Artist James Sum is a child of Penang. Born here in 1944, he has been painting since the age of 10, and has been living in London since 1966 when he moved there to study at art school. His long career has encompassed many solo and group exhibitions, including a giant retrospective of his work held at the Penang State Art Museum two years ago. This solo exhibition at Daiichi Art Space is more intimate, yet still finds room to display 36 of his oil on canvas and ink on paper works.
His quintessentially Chinese landscapes, using either ink or water colour on rice paper, are what raised his profile internationally in the 1980s and 1990s, so much so that in 1995 he became the first Asian ever to be given the Outstanding New Entrant Award by the Royal Watercolour Society (established since 1804) for one of his landscapes in Chinese ink on rice paper. There are 11 of these on display at this solo exhibition
His high profile was also acknowledged by the mainland Chinese government, when in 2014 he became an “Overseas Chinese Model” , one of 65 people to be featured on commemorative postage stamps they issued.
Unsurprisingly, the artist’s style has changed considerably in the intervening decades. On display in this exhibition are 25 of his 2017 and 2018 large, colourful, abstract works in oil on canvas. Elements of landscape composition is possible to detect in many of them, and the turbulent skies in some of them are reminiscent of those of English Romantic painter Turner.
The James Sum solo exhibition is at Daiichi Art Space, 25 Jalan Argyll, and is open from 1pm to 6pm daily until December 30th 2018.