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The paper trail to popularity

Tung Ying Hee
Tung Ying Hee

CNN's Hope Ngo reports on a Chinese artist's original method of painting.
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August 30, 1999
Web posted at: 2:03 a.m. EDT (0703 GMT)

By CNN's Inside Asia reporter Hope Ngo

HONG KONG (CNN) -- A crumpled sheet of paper may be as good as trash to many of us.

But a rumpled sheet is gold dust to one Hong Kong artist who considers it the best way to showcase his work.

Tung Hing Yee draws inspiration from traditional Chinese and African art, prehistoric paintings and various images depicting the Buddha.

Yet Tung has managed to set his work apart from others with similar themes -- thanks to the way he breathes life into his ideas.

Some art lovers may be unfamiliar with Tung's way of expressing himself, but he says he gets inspiration from other forms:

"If you were to compare my painting to anything, you'll find it is very similar to batik. It may be found in Indonesia, but the people of Africa also like batik very much," Tung said.

The idea of painting in the style used by batik designers to decorate cloth came to Tung while he worked at a textile factory in Hong Kong.

"While I was at the factory, we also tried to use the same method applied to creating batik," Tung said.

"We tried drawing a design by hand and then putting that image onto a piece of fabric. But the effect you get from painting a fabric, and letting the color settle naturally isn't the same. That work definitely had an effect on me."

Tung's art
Hong Kong artist Tung Hing Yee draws various images depicting the Buddha, getting inspiration from traditional Asia and African art forms  

Tung begins a painting by drawing a basic design.

"I like using two very thin sheets of rice paper, both of which I crumple and then spray with water until they're both wet. Then I put them together."

"Because both sheets are creased, some parts of the paper stick together, and others stay apart. I then paint on the creases on the top sheet of paper and allow the color to slowly seep through to the second sheet.

"It's the drawing on the bottom sheet that I want, because the effect is natural; it's not a painting that's been done by hand. I need that natural effect."

The process is repeated between 20 and 30 times before Tung gets a result he's happy with.

The result -- a beautiful work of art that Tung says can take him up to one month to finish.


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