Sincerely Me: Self Expression Inspired by Pan Yu-Lin

A feature article on ASHK’s art competition and exhibition “Expressing Self – Inspired Pan Yu-Lin”


A big round of applause for the winners of Expressing Self – Inspired by Pan Yu-Lin art competition! After the first-ever solo exhibition of Pan Yu-Lin in Hong Kong in Song of Spring: Pan Yu-Lin in Paris, Asia Society Hong Kong Center (ASHK) proudly presents a response showcase of artworks by the local public inspired by the pioneering Chinese modern painter. To encourage public interest in art creation and appreciation, ASHK an art competition welcoming audience of all ages to give in to their imagination. From mid-September 2018 to early January 2019, over 100 members of the public submitted their artworks extending the phenomenal spirit and creativity in Pan Yu-Lin. Artworks were selected by a panel of judges with our curators and organizers of this exhibition. Evaluated on both the artistic creativity and the relation to themes conveyed in Pan’s oeuvre, such as her multimedia practice, expression of individuality and questions of a true-self, a total of 30 paintings were selected as winning entries. Across the Children, Youth and Open divisions with top three winners in each division, an array of 21 excellence award artworks were on display at the Chantal Miller Gallery from January 26 to February 10. The exhibition was well attended over the holidays by over 800 visitors!


The award-winning paintings are multifarious in media and subject matters, aptly opening up dialogues with Pan’s paintings. Works investigating the body, the female subject and individuality are reminiscent of Pan’s committed efforts in challenging the academic traditions in arts and, at the same time, illustrative of our participants’ wonders of a true self and perceptions of bodies.

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Winning paintings such as Self Portrait with Snake Plant by June Mung, Self Portrait in Red by Lee Yuk Kwai, and White Canvas by Yu Ngai Ning look into the artist’s self-identity using portraiture, which resonates with Pan’s Self-Portrait in Red (ca. 1940). Likewise, the model subjects are composed carefully with personal objects significant to their identities, be it a home letter, plant or even an exhibition postcard of Pan Yu-Lin. Winnie Yu’s Fate with cheongsam 2: Pan Yu-Lin employs a whimsical repetition of self in her painting as an exploration of her relationship to Pan Yu-Lin as an artist, viewer and exhibition docent. Pan’s pointillist-esque brushstroke, the composition in her large group portrait Pleasure on the Beach (1959) as well as Yu’s own docent experience for the exhibition inspired her to create this mise-en-abîme.


Female nudes and the theme of dance were significant in the presentation of Song of Spring: Pan Yu-Lin in Paris. And this was picked up by many participants as an investigation into human relationship. Little Ballerina by Hui Yat Yin Haylie and Sister and I taking bath by Atomu Lee draw inspiration from the pictorial arrangement in Pan’s paintings: Suckle (undated) and Two Girls Dancing with Fans (1955). They illustrate their joyous family relationship through Pan’s dynamic and artistic portrayal of bodies.


In response to Pan’s multimedia experiments, participants in the art competition tapped into their creative reservoir and expressed their stylistic pursuits using a wide range of media, from acrylic, oil, ink, print, ballpoint pen to textiles. Besides showcasing the winning entries, though, the exhibition also gives an honourable mention to artworks by the participants of ASHK’s Art Access Opportunities programs. Throughout the exhibition, art access programs provided visitors of all abilities and conditions to experience the exhibition, including the visual and hearing-impaired, intellectually challenged and physically-disabled. Some of Pan Yu-Lin’s key paintings were remodelled into tactile three-dimensional relief aids with materials specific to the pictorial elements, such as silk, fabric and easel sticks. Through tactile interaction with the painting boards, the viewing experience Pan’s exhibition can be enhanced and enriched.


This art compeition-cum-exhibition sought to build an environment for people of all backgrounds and of different ability to enjoy art. The diversity of creativity and expression from all contestants who submitted to the competition is not only a testament of Pan Yu-Lin's inspiring practice, but also the power of art to engage all levels of society.

Text written by: Lai Man Kit, Asia Society Hong Kong Center Exhibitions Intern