Master Simon Wong has been painting for over 60 years. He was born in a small village outside Shenzhen in the Guangdong province in southern China, and took an interest in art at 6 years old, regularly winning school competitions. During the Great Leap Forward, he was forced to flee to Hong Kong with his family. There at art college he trained in traditional oil and classical Chinese painting under Master Pang Jade-Sip, who in turn had learned from Master Ju Siu-Ong, the founder of the Southern Chinese painting style. Turning professional after leaving college, he sold paintings in Hong Kong prior to moving to England.
Through his art, Master Simon Wong expresses the interrelationship between Taoism and Buddhism’s thoughts and ways of seeing reality. His is an artistic expression with spiritual resolve and self-perfection, illustrating a Taoist artistic style which has inspired humanity over the last 1000 years, both culturally and spiritually, from the peak of the Tang Dynasty.
One of the main techniques that accentuates this Taoist artistic style is the splash ink method (泼墨), originating from Wang Qia (王洽) during the Tang Dynasty. The paint is spontaneously and subtly controlled: understood by the Taoist as a hypnotic state that highlights momentary existence and non-existence – expressing the sentiment of the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra that form is emptiness and emptiness is form, thus, depicting man’s relationship and interconnectedness with the cosmos.
Master Simon Wong broadened his talents as an artist into the spiritual realm through his training as a Taoist Master. He did not merely want to be an artist, but rather sought to develop a deeper state of consciousness from his life experience, and so to create a profundity in his artwork when returning to his practice.
“….spend ten years observing bamboo, become bamboo yourself, then forget everything and paint.”
Training in martial arts, Taoism and Buddhism for over 40 years has brought him to the point of self-realisation where he is satisfied to express himself as an artist.
His Taoist view integrates imagination with actuality through the most intangible forms, such as clouds, trees, mountains, mist, ocean, waves and formless scenes of nature. Through these forms, the viewer can be inspired to unlock and open their minds and hearts to an enlightened view of reality.
This contrasts with the misinterpretation and misunderstanding by modern abstract artists, who lacking true spiritual understanding express their metaphysical angst, compared to the floating harmony of Master Simon Wong’s certitude and direct existential grasp of reality. The purpose is to inspire and place the viewer in touch with their innate spiritual nature opening up their desire for knowledge and enlightenment.
There is no East and West in Master Simon Wong’s work: everything is part of nature, so, he uses the medium, the more Western tradition of oil and canvas in order to convey the artistic styles more akin to Chinese philosophy. His sentiments of the universal philosophy of human nature should have no limit. It does not, therefore, matter if it is a Chinese or Western technique, these are merely tools and through the creative spirit, this is what should unite not culturally divide people.
When the Master uses the finger to point at the moon the student should not just be looking at the finger. The finger is just a tool pointing to the direction. Painting is the same, the medium that is used is not important, it is the mental expression behind the artwork that gives a picture its spirit.
As the Zen expression goes: “Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss the heavenly glory of the sky.”