Correspondence through Art: Claire Lee & Régis Gonzalez

Régis Gonzalez; Enter the Void – Correspondence with Claire Lee (2016, ink on paper); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

The artwork presented on this page is a correspondence project between Claire Lee (a Hong Kong artist), and Régis Gonzalez (a French artist living in St. Etienne). The two artists sent each other a total of eight artworks—including texts, drawings, photographs and mixed media works—over the course of two years (2014-2016), The project was a dialogue that was meant to allow them to express their inner thoughts and feelings. Many of the works in the correspondence evoke feelings of pressure or alienation.

The project was initiated by Amandine Hervey, the curator at the Mur Nomade gallery in Hong Kong. The original idea was that the artists would ONLY be able to communicate with one another through their art work. People being people, however, the two artists did start attaching written explanations to their art and Régis even visited Hong Kong.

People have a desire to be understood as well as to understand, so perhaps communicating solely through art would have been frustrating. This kind of correspondence-via-art is a fascinating idea for an art project though.

The entire correspondence was laid out on a table at Art Central 2016. The correspondence is in order; the first artwork is at top of the following photo.

Claire Lee & Régis Gonzalez; Correpondence (2014-2016); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

Régis initiated the art-dialogue with this painting of a woman kneeling by a river as a man (or a man’s body) floats past. That is a pretty intense way to start a conversation!

Régis Gonzalez; Debute (‘Start’) – Correspondence with Claire Lee (2014, oil paint, pencils, India ink); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

Claire responded equally intensely  by building a tiny wooden box with a drawer containing, a poem, a letter, and a paper heart on top of drawings of…er…dead flies.

Claire Lee; Dead Flies and Awakening Heart – Correspondence with Régis Gonzalez (2014, Watercolour, coloured pencils, chalk and acrylic on paper, wood); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.
Claire Lee; Dead Flies and Awakening Heart – detail view – Correspondence with Régis Gonzalez (2014); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

The letter begins:

Dear Régis, thank you for your painting, when I saw the man floating on the river it instantly reminds me of Nick Cave’s ”Where the Wild Rose Grows”.

Here is the Nick Cave song that Claire is referring to:

Claire continues the letter by briefly introducing the accompanying poem, which is from her book entitled Ritual. Here is that poem:


by Claire Lee

In the middle of an abandoned cloister
A divine light irradiates the dust
A lonely hermit stares at an old desk

Religion searches for a corner to rest
He presses lightly on a huntress’ leaden breath
Spider is spinning a web at a dark corner
Candlelight whispers to tempt chaos

White smoke sneaks through the wet lips of a drawer
Old hermit remembers a summer story.

It was a humid summer
Huntress put into a drawer a heart saved from mire
Blood and tears seeped deep into the wood
Prey’s whimpering cries
Sadistic insects

That day a ferocious huntress and tigress glared at each other
In a sudden they found comfort in one another
She saves its life by digging out its heart
Then laid three white hairs on the carcass

Blood-drenched drawer is filled with eyes of desire
It is not love they hunger for but an emptiness of tempting fire

A black widow spinning a moth
His rough hand sweeps aside the heavy dust of memories
Before flame extinguishes
he sits and starts to write his first and only love letter
Then seals it and puts it inside the drawer

Tigress’s heart stops beating
It become the first Sabbath for the wild ones

Régis replied with a photo and short note:

Régis Gonzalez; The Reader – Correspondence with Claire Lee (2014, digital print); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.
Régis Gonzalez; Correspondence with Claire Lee (2014,); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

The letter reads:

I took this picture a night I couldn’t sleep. I was in a very small village in north of France. The village was empty of people. But close to 5.30 am, there was this guy. He never saw me taking the picture.

I thought I was alone but he was there
He thought he was alone but I was there.

As you send me the poem “Drawer” I found you a reader, kind of extension of myself at this moment.    

Let’s skip ahead a year (sorry, I didn’t get pictures of all the works).

Régis visited Hong Kong, which tends to be a pretty hot place, and people often like to keep the air-conditioning on full blast. As a result, you are often either too hot or too cold. In this picture, Régis imagines himself as a faceless humanoid air-conditioner: sometimes warm, sometimes cold, but never the perfect temperature.

Régis Gonzalez; (top) I feel like an air con machine cold or warm but never find the right temperature & (bottom) Untitled – Correspondence with Claire Lee (2015); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

The final artwork was from Claire. Entitled Missing Face, the painting shows a mask, or is it a disembodied face? Or are the two things—mask and face—one and the same?

Claire Lee; The Missing Face – Correspondence with Régis Gonzalez (2016, Pigmented India Ink on acid-free archival clay-coated panel); Art Central 2016 (Mur Nomade). Photo by longzijun.

Once the project was finished, the works were displayed together and then sold separately. I would view the dialogue as a single work of art, so, to me, selling each piece independently seemed like a kind of ‘break up’—buyers would only be purchasing fragments of a single dialogue. Am I being too idealistic?

Go Further

Three Questions

  1. Do you see a common theme running through the whole dialogue? What is that theme?
  2. What do you think of the art correspondence idea?
  3. How do you think the artists inspired each other? Do you notice, for example, something in one artist’s work that is an extension of or response to the other artist’s work?

Art Challenge

You should be able to guess the challenge for this article! Engage in an art dialogue with another person (but try to follow the rule—only communicate via the actual artwork).



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Ink Landscapes: Contemporary Ink Painting (Part 1)

Simon Yung (容子敏); Colour of Twilight (2016, ink and color on paper): Affordable Art Fair 2016 (Blink Galley). Photo by longzijun.

This article, which features landscape paintings by ten artists, is the first in a series of posts on contemporary ink painting. The paintings on this page range from stylized but easily recognizable representations of natural scenery to mainly abstract works in which elements of nature such as mountains and rivers are only hinted at. However, the artists featured here all seek to observe tradition, absorb new influences, innovate, express themselves artistically and establish a unique personal style. This approach is expressed more eloquently by one of the featured artists:

What I intend to do is to merge the old and the new together, inheriting something from the past and divulging something belonging to our time. That is why I, on the one hand, prize the value of the use of brush and ink (Bǐ mò), and on the other, appropriate to my work, the view of today’s world. I reckon this is the way to give rise to my own unique artistry. (from Koon Wai-bong’s artist statement:

– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version on Flickr –

Simon Yung: Up and Down Spring

Simon Yung (容子敏); Up and Down Spring (2012, ink and color on paper): Affordable Art Fair 2016 (Blink Galley). Photo by longzijun.

Of all the paintings on the this page, Simon Yung’s are the ones that resonate with me the most. In his work, this Hong Kong artist strives to transform the chaos of the world into a feeling of calmness and serenity. I particularly like the balance between ink, color and space. The aesthetic of the paintings reminds me of my own music composition style: restrained, but with some liveliness; melancholy, but with some brightness.

In Up and Down Spring, there is a balanced system of natural forces at play: thermal and geological forces push mountain spring water to the surface, and gravity pulls the water back to the ground (where it nourishes life) via waterfalls and mountain streams.


Yang Jiechang: Mustard Seed Garden III

Yang Jiechang (杨诘苍); Mustard Seed Garden III (2010, ink and mineral color on silk); The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+. Photo by longzijun.

The Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden is an influential Chinese painting manual published in the late 18th century (downloadable version:

The artist has followed the guidelines set out in the manual to produce a pleasing landscape of farmland, a river, a mountain and rolling clouds; however, there is a chilling scene at the bottom right.

Yang Jiechang (杨诘苍); Mustard Seed Garden III – detail view (2010, ink and mineral color on silk); The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+. Photo by longzijun.

It is not clear exactly what is happening, but if you ever find yourself clad all in white and kneeling in front of a deserted river bank with uniformed man pointing a rifle at your back, it is safe to say that you are not going to be enjoying one of the happier days of your life. The artist was himself a Red Guard during China’s Cultural Revolution and this painting revisits that period in his life.

Once the viewer becomes more aware of the two small figures in the corner, he/she may re-examine other elements of the painting. Are those sunset clouds or turbulent storm clouds? Are the birds simply flying or are they fleeing? Why are there no other people around? Why is the ground red?

Yang Jiecheng is originally from China and is based in Paris, Heidelberg and Foshan.


Wucious Wong: Distant Thoughts No. 19

Wucious Wong (王无邪); Distant Thoughts No. 19 (1990, ink and color on paper); The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+. Photo by longzijun.

This is a painting of New Jersey’s Englewoods Cliffs in the Palisades along the Hudson River. The muted color scheme greatly decreases the real-world visual contrasts between the rock, forest, water and sky; consequently, one’s attention is drawn to textures, composition and shape. The aerial point of view makes the cliffs seem much less imposing than they would be if viewed at ground level and also serves to highlight the curve of the river, which according to the exhibition notes, calls to mind the Tai Chi symbol for energy flow. In my opinion, the painting evokes a calm, but heavy and subdued early evening mood.

Wucious Wong is an adjunct professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Liu Kuo-song: Clear Conclusion of Clearness

Liu Kuo-song (劉國松); Clear Conclusion of Clearness – detail view (1965, ink and color on paper); The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+. Photo by longzijun.

This painting by Taiwanese artist Liu Kuo-song is more abstract in style. It gives me the impression of a mountainside blanketed in snow. There is a strong sense of balance between ‘form’ (i.e., the rock of the mountains) and ‘space’ (i.e., the snow). I particularly like how the artist is able to convey the idea of snow filling up every crack and crevice. These lightning-like zig zags of snow-filled crevices give the painting visual energy. The feathery white marks were created using a special technique—the artist would paint on coarse cotton paper and then later peel away fibers from the paper.

Liu Kuo-song (劉國松); Clear Conclusion of Clearness – detail view (1965, ink and color on paper); The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+. Photo by longzijun.


Li Huayi: Pine Crest

Li Huayi (李华弋); Pine Crest (2001, ink and color on paper); The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+. Photo by longzijun.

With this painting by Li Huayi, we are back to a more representative style of landscape painting. There is a strong sense of contrast between the hard rocky crags that are painted in considerable detail (and that look somewhat like waves in a rough sea) and the soft, ethereal mist.

This painting portrays how life can stubbornly endure and even thrive. There is no reason for pine trees to be growing on such a barren and jagged surface, but there they are, clinging to wherever there is enough room to lay down roots. The subject matter reminds of some of Tom Thomson’s Canadian landscape paintings—namely Jack Pine,Pine Cleft Rock and Pine Cleft Rocks—that feature pine trees enduring the elements on open, rocky terrain after having already broken apart solid rock in their efforts to grow.

Li Huayi is a originally from China and is based in San Francisco.


Eddy Chan: Snow-white True Light all over the Earth No.2

Eddy Chan ((陳君立); Snow-white True Light all over the Earth No.2 (2010, ink on paper); Fotanian 2014 (Eddy Chan Studio), Photo by longzijun.

Hong Kong artist Eddy Chan’s landscape of snow-covered rocks deals with a similar theme. The imagery of trees growing in a harsh landscape can serve as a kind of visual metaphor for strength, durability and the will to live. For Eddy Chan, this strength, as well as the pristine beauty of snow-covered mountain landscapes, are the work of God. Thus, his landscapes are an affirmation of faith.

To create the interesting textures in his paintings, the artist uses a variety of non-traditional techniques such as sprinkling, dots, spraying, brushing, scraping, splashing, dripping, and dyeing.


Koon Wai-bong: Nostalgia – Isles

Koon Wai-bong (管偉邦); Nostalgia – Isles (2016, ink on paper); Art Basel HK 2018 (Grotto Fine Art). Photo by longzijun.

In Nostalgia – Isles, by Hong artist Koon Wai-bong, the style seemingly transitions from figurative (e.g., the tree-lined hilly islands at the top of the painting) to expressive (the vivid splash in the middle) to abstract (e.g., the bottom third). The feeling of nostalgia involves looking back to the past (represented here by the use of more traditional techniques at the top of the painting), but the emotions associated with nostalgia belong to the present (represented by the expressive, bold splash in the middle). The dark abstract shapes at the bottom of the painting (i.e., beneath the surface of the water) may represent the unknown—memories that have been blurred beyond recognition, memories that have been suppressed, things that have been forgotten and things that were never known in the first place. Deep beneath the surface of a memory, there is much that is unknown.

When I saw Nostalgia – Isles at Art Basel (HK), it was paired with another painting—Nostalgia – Woods to form a diptych. High resolution of both images can be seen on the artist’s website:


Ikko Fukuyama: landscape No. 16003

Ikko Fukuyama (福山一光); Landscape No. 16003 (2016, ink on Chinese paper); Art Central 2016 (Kamiya Art). Photo by longzijun.

Like many of Japanese artist Ikko Fukuyama’s paintings, landscape No. 16003 is a study in softness. As with the painting Clear Conclusion of Clearness there is a balanced contrast between form and space, but with Ikko Fuuyama’s painting, the distinction between form and space is often blurred. In the foreground, only a few tree trunks are painted in detail, and just behind this first set of tree trunks is a mysterious blackness. Further back, the blurred shapes of forested hills are visible, but in the distance, there is only a vague presence that blurs into the emptiness. The painting evokes a calm, mysterious mood. What lies within the darkness of the forest? And what lies beyond?

Ikko Fukuyama (福山一光); landscape No. 16003 – detail view (2016, ink on Chinese paper); Art Central 2016 (Kamiya Art). Photo by longzijun.


S. C. Chan: Spring Plow

S. C. Chan; Spring Plow (ink on paper); Fotanian 2014 (Eddy Chan Studio). Photo by longzijun.

This is a lovely scene portraying two farmers tending to a paddyfield. I like how simply the water is represented in the little ripples around the farmers’ ankles and in the reflection of the mountains. The messy line between water and land is also interesting. Land is land and water is water, but where the two meet, the edges fray, scatter and blend.

S.C. Chan is based in Hong Kong.

Peter Siu Pak-keung: Portrait of Landscape II (detail view)

Peter Siu Pak-kung (蕭柏強); Portrait of Landscape II (2012) – detail view; Fotanian 2014 (Gen Kan Workshop). Photo by longzijun.

The above images is a detail view of the main part of the painting; an image showing the whole painting can be seen on this page:

Portrait of a landscape is a very high aerial view (i.e., a satellite view) of a snow covered landscape. The painting emphasizes the contrasts between light and dark and between detailed textures and smooth gradients. To create the textures, the artist makes use of tools like crumpled newspapers or plastic plates in addition to typical place ink brushes.

Peter Siu is based in Hong Kong.


Websites Introducing Chinese Landscape Painting

Chinese Landscape painting has been at the forefront of art in China for over 1,500 years, making it one of the oldest genres of art. It has always been rather stylized, so if you are like me and not very familiar with the history of the genre, you might be surprised at how modern some centuries-old works look.

After reading up a little on Chinese landscape painting, I was intrigued to learn about the extent to which tradition, innovation, personal expression and individual style have all been greatly valued during the genre’s long evolution. If you are interested in finding out more about the ink landscape genre, you can start with the following page:
An overview of the development of Chinese landscape painting over the centuries, explains the different schools and philosophies and introduces the most famous representative artists of the different schools.
An introduction to some of some of the techniques and theories behind the genre. The left-hand column includes interesting quotes referring to principles related to landscape painting, so if you visit the page, do have a look at those.
On this page, a pair of Western photographers discuss methods they have used to try to emulate Chinese landscape painting aesthetics in their photos.

Go Further

Many of the artists featured on this page have personal websites or gallery pages:

Three Questions

  1. Which of the above artworks do you like best? Why?
  2. Choose on of the above works. How would you interpret it?
  3. What are some of the challenges of using ink and paper as a medium?

Art Challenge

Using any medium (e.g., ink, acrylic paint, charcoal, photography, sculpture, mixed media, etc.), create work that stylistically resembles an ink landscape.



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Vancouver Street Art

Vancouver Street Art (alley in the Gastown district). Photo by longzijun.

Gastown Street Art

In the back alleys near Hastings Street in the Gastown district of Vancouver, there are a lot of street art pieces. When I was there, I saw a couple of pieces, like the one of a bear above, that were inspired by Coast Salish art  (for more information about this style, see the Google Arts & Culture gallery on Native American Art of the Northwest Coast:

These two pieces (the other one is shown in the gallery below and features a sun and orca whales) were painted by indigenous graffiti artist Larissa Healey (AKA Gurl Twenty Three).

– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version (2048 x 1365) on Flickr –

Vancouver Street Art (alley in the Gastown district). Photo by longzijun.

The above mural, by the artist collective Cold World Media, is a street art remix of a famous painting by M.C. Escher: Hand with Reflecting Sphere (

A few of the artworks in the gallery on this page are also by Cold War Media—the Prisoner Smoking a Cigarette, the Freedom mural and the one inspired by Michelangelo.

Vancouver Street Art (alley in the Gastown district))
Vancouver Street Art (alley in the Gastown district). Photo by longzijun.

Click on any of the below images and the image will open in gallery view. Higher resolution (e.g., 2048 x 1365) images are available in the Flickr gallery: Street Art in Vancouver.



I noticed this interesting mural by the AA Crew (A Crew (Virus, Tars, and Dedos) in a downtown back alley (I think this area still counts as downtown Vancouver; I am not very familiar with the city).

Vancouver Street Art: AA Crew: Mechanical Robo Episode 1
Vancouver Street Art: AA Crew: Mechanical Robo Episode 1
Vancouver Street Art: AA Crew: Mechanical Robo Episode 1
Vancouver Street Art: AA Crew: Mechanical Robo Episode 1


Beatty Street Mural

This block-long mural, entitled Vancouverites, celebrates famous people who are from Vancouver (or who have some kind of association from the city). It was a created by a team led by local artists Vince Dumoulin, Milan Basic and Manuel Di Ritawas. Unfortunately, it was recently painted over by the city in preparation for a new mural.

The image below features Chief Joseph Capilano (a Squamish Nation leader),  Seraphim Joseph Fortes (English Bay’s first lifeguard and swimming teacher) and David Oppenheimer (an entrepreneur and Vancouver’s 2nd mayor)

Beatty Street Mural: Vancouverites. Photo by longzijun.

On the left of the following photo is part of the war remembrance section. The woman second from right is the late actress and dancer Yvonne de Carlo. if you know who the other people are, let me know. Many of the subjects in the mural are identified on this page: Beatty Street Mural (you can also see more photos there).

Beatty Street Mural: Vancouverites. Photo by longzijun.
Beatty Street Mural: Vancouverites . Photo by longzijun.

The war remembrance statue in the middle of the next photo is the Angel of Victory, which was sculpted by Coeur de Lion MacCarthy

Beatty Street Mural: Vancouverites. Photo by longzijun.

A portrait of Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams:

Beatty Street Mural: Vancouverites. Photo by longzijun.

And here is a portrait of Terry Fox, who became a Canadian icon in 1980, when, after losing one of his legs to cancer, he attempted to run across the country to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Beatty Street Mural: Vancouverites. Photo by longzijun.

If you know more about the artists or artwork on this page, let me know so I can flesh out the information on this page.

Go Further


Street Art of Vancouver (A Walking Tour) (by Joanne Hastie)

More Street Art Pages in Artjouer

Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Shoreditch London
Street Art in Shoreditch, London

~photos and text by

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