PATRICK DAVIES has been closely associated with Hock-Aun’s work for over twenty five years. Most recently, he curated the 2019 solo exhibition, in the country of artist’s birth, Malaysia, at the flagship National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.
What strikes you when you first meet Hock-Aun is his sheer exuberance. His abundant energy is channelled into every facet of his existence. It doesn't matter whether he is painting, orchestrating the school of Tukido (the martial art form that he invented) or cooking at home; he literally attacks everything with verve and intensity. Often, when he's painting and is in the groove, he will remain in the studio for days at a time without a break. On other occasions, when things aren't going so well, he’ll destroy a whole body of work because he hasn't been able to force his feelings and memories onto the canvas or paper in the way that he wants.
I have known Hock-Aun for a long time. Although his passion and drive is an inspiration, it can be disruptive! I have lost count of the number of times that he has telephoned in the middle of the night just to say that has finished a painting and how excited he is. He had to immediately tell someone he’d created something wonderful.
I have travelled with him all over the world, but cannot ever recall getting into a lift with him. Simply unable to wait for it to arrive, he charges off up the stairs just in case he might miss out on a new adventure. He took me on a wild boar hunt in Malaysia, I only discovered afterwards that it was illegal. Hock-Aun had been so desperate for us to be part of a new experience that he hadn't wanted to give me any excuse to chicken out.
In the studio, Hock-Aun’s use of acrylic paint has always been a constant, either on canvas or torn paper. Over the years his exhibitions have concentrated on one medium or the other. Each time we plan a new show, my anticipation grows as I wait for a first glimpse of his new creations. This occasion was no exception and it became obvious that to exhibit canvas and paper together for the first time was long overdue.
Travel, memories, story telling and myths are vital influences which shine brightly in this group of new paintings. The exhibition title, 6 + 6 (Liu Liu) points directly to Chinese culture where numbers are special. 3 signifies the beginning of change, 4 is death, 6 good luck, 8 fortune and 9 longevity. People often greet each other by saying 'liu liu da shun - the greatest flow of smoothness be with you'. So it had to be 6 of both canvas and paper.
These pictures are strong and eloquent despite being created during 8 (fortune) months of Glasgow lockdown. Each picture is a ray of optimism bursting with explosive colour moderated by fast calligraphic brush strokes. A cultural East meets West that is a perfect antidote to pandemic despondency.