A Mountain is Much More than a Mountain

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Absorbing atmospheres to regurgitate art, James Sum paints calm and tranquility onto canvas.

James Sum’s mountainscapes can be split into more traditional Chinese inkand-(limited) colour constructs, and more dialectical yet lyrical palettes of oil; sometimes, his works display a nuanced promiscuity between the two.

Sum’s Chinese ink does not have the ascetic abandon of Shitao, nor the rarefied mystique of Huang Binhong, but sprawls across a more chaotic topography of cultured terrain dotted by hints of water.

The hues are more intense, and areas more visibly delineated, creating an ambiguous juxtaposition.

The oil works, meanwhile, are swathes of colour adumbrations, of coarse surface tensions and ululations; they contain a play of rhythm and contours, but are hardly luscious. The mountains are obdurate and unyielding, even as the surfaces are truncated and honed by the attrition of wind and sand.


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