• 9:35 am on July 29, 2015

    When it’s not cultural appropriation 


    There has been a lot of talk about cultural appropriation lately (in regards to people wearing headdresses to music festivals and Halloween costumes).  I’m not talking about that.  I want to talk about when the best of two worlds merge to create something new and amazing.

    So I’ve talked before about how my grandfather was always trying to merge a Western medium (oil painting) and Eastern ideas into his paintings.  I recently read this article about a band that is doing the same thing only in the realm of music.  They talk about preserving their culture, which I think my grandfather was also trying to do.  They talk about how they have an oral tradition of passing on their stories to the next generation.  They are folk/rock group, Hanggai.  Check out their article in the National Post.  There is also a little video from their upcoming documentary which has a sample of their sound.

    I think my grandfather tried to do the same thing in his art.  As you can see in Seaview below, he painted Chinese scenes but he would use the medium of oil painting (which wasn’t really a traditional Chinese medium).  I think he was trying to capture the every day life of everyday people in Hong Kong during his time.  It’s just like Hanggai trying to pass on their stories through their music, just in a different way.

    I believe he was also influenced by Western artists like the Impressionists, as you can tell from the painting below.  His techniques were also probably influenced by them.  One technique he used quite often was layering the paint thickly with his palate knife, which is quite obvious in Seaview.  For his time period, it was revolutionary and he produced some amazing art.

    © Copyright 2014 Cantra Limited. Please contact us for permission to use any of the images.

    Seaview, 40.5 x 50.5 cm, oil on hardboard, 1957

    It’s nice to see each generation mixing it up to create something totally different from what came before but at the same time respecting their roots.  Each one of them, Ng Po Wan and Hanggai are preserving their culture while adding something to the discussion.  Now that is what cultural appropriation should be.


    Posted by: intersections
    Tags: 1957, 40.5x50.5, cultural appropriation, merging two cultures, oil on hardboard  
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