Wai Ming, Chinese (1938 - )

Wai Ming

Wai Ming is the professional artist moniker of Hing Kwok, who was born in Canton, South China on November 11, 1938, the son of a school master with nine children. Extremely poor as a child, he was raised in Hong Kong enduring many hardships amidst a chaotic environment of war and refugee settlements. Despite the focus on practical matters from such a state of affairs, Wai Ming's love for art flourished and he developed his drawing techniques without any art education, just painting what he saw.

In the 1960s, Ming found representation in Hong Kong and also took the unusual step of opening his own gallery to display his work in. His primary interest being to capture images of life in fishing villages, or 'fish-folk', who have retained traditional Chinese culture, his work was at home with the sensibilities of many art buyers in Hong Kong, and so was able to find some initial success.

Crossing the ocean in his mid-30s, Wai Ming arrived in San Francisco from Hong Kong in 1974. There, he experienced initial resistance from galleries and the official art world for a variety of reasons, but was ultimately embraced by dealer Jack Swanson only five months after his arrival. The four paintings that he displayed at Swanson Art Gallery for the first time in 1975 were all sold within the first day. Since then, not only has the demand for his work grown steadily, but he is acknowledged by many as one of the Bay Area's leading artist.

Though self-taught, Wai Ming paints with a rare professionalism which makes an important social statement, and with enough diversity of style to escape pigeon-holing his talent. His original oil paintings and fine art reproductions are admired and collected by people throughout the world.

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