Stephen Wong Chun Hei - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “I never try to capture just one moment in a landscape. The colours are ever-changing through time. This is the reason that the colours in my paintings are not realistic or naturalistic in appearance. I would like them to be more subjective.” 
    — Stephen Wong

    As one of Hong Kong’s most in-demand artists, Stephen Wong Chun Hei is quickly capturing the attention of the artworld for his imaginative landscape paintings composed of rich texture and colour. Born in 1986, Wong graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2008, and has been steadily exhibiting his work in solo exhibitions since. His work is held in the permanent collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


    It has been in the past couple of years, however, where traction for the artist’s market has really picked up, evidenced by the recent, notable solo presentations of Wong’s work at Unit London, London (2022); Gallery Exit, Hong Kong (2021); and Touch Gallery, Hong Kong (2021). Unit London also recently presented Wong’s work at ART SG 2023, where all paintings sold out. Wong recently made his debut at auction in Hong Kong in November 2022, with a work that hammered down for a remarkable HKD 1,071,000 including buyer’s premium (137,219 USD), against pre-auction estimates of HKD 150,000 – 250,000.


    The present 2-in-1 lot consists of two unique paintings by Wong, both of which were painted in 2020. Executed on an intimate scale, the paintings beckon the viewer closer, inviting them to peer in as if looking through a portal to the locations divulged by the works’ titles. The big tree at Junction Road transports us to the heart of Kowloon, to a setting that encapsulates Hong Kong’s unique blend of the urban and the natural. Meticulously detailed in shades of stippled green, the titular tree is backgrounded by cotton-candy pink buildings and a lavender-clouded sky. Running diagonally in the foreground is Junction Road, with a lone figure who walks along the pavement towards the lemon-yellow traffic sign.  


    Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889
    Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


    Although Wong’s swirling brushstroke draws an instant comparison to Vincent van Gogh, his vibrant colour palette is also reminiscent of the Fauvists or, for a more contemporary link, Matthew Wong or David Hockney – an artist whom Wong has expressed admiration for. This is exquisitely showcased by The evening at Sui Wo Court in Spring, a nighttime scene which nicely complements the daylit The big tree at Junction Road. Located in Fo Tan in the Sha Tin District of Hong Kong, Sui Wo Court is an estate built in 1980. Similar to The big tree at Junction Road, the painting features a solitary figure who this time, looks out at a green sports court from a suspended walkway situated along the right edge, illuminated by tall floodlights attracting swarms of spring-time flies. Small dots of yellow light pour out from the tall buildings above the tree line, leaving us to wonder about the various lives lived within. 

    Detail of The big tree at Junction Road


    Detail of The evening at Sui Wo Court in Spring


    Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong's highest mountain and a dormant volcano, mirrors the form of the residential towers in the backdrop. This detail is a wonderful nod to Wong's love of hiking, as he frequently draws inspiration from the city's picturesque mountains when meandering along their country trails. As he expresses, ‘hiking for me is a bit like drawing, because in my mind’s eye I’m continuously reconstructing the scene’[i]


    Sketching the landscapes he encounters en route, Wong then revisions them on canvas when back in his studio. As such, whilst his compositions are anchored by geographical location, the volatility of memory imbues each work with a blend of familiarity and otherworldliness. This fantastical, dreamlike quality is further enhanced by the artist’s interest in video games, as the intricate details and almost artificial colour and lighting blurs the lines between the tangible and intangible, inviting the viewer to step into a world that is at once recognisable and entirely new. 


    In the studio with Stephen Wong
    Video Courtesy of CNN

    i Stephen Wong, quoted in ‘Bonhams Hong Kong Presents Stephen Wong Chun Hei, Bonhams, 9 March 2022

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Private Collection, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Two works: (i) The evening at Sui Wo Court in Spring; (ii) The big tree at Junction Road

(i) signed and dated 'WONG CHUN HEI 2020' on the reverse
(ii) signed 'WONG CHUN HEI 2020' lower right

acrylic on canvas
each 14.4 x 20.8 cm. (5 5/8 x 8 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2020, both works are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Full Cataloguing

HK$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for HK$88,900

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 31 March 2023