Rick Leong has achieved what most artists dream of: one of his pieces was purchased by the Fine Arts Museum of Montreal.
Leong graduated finished a Masters degree in Fine Arts last spring from Concordia University, and the piece the museum bought was part of his thesis show.
“It was quite surprising when they bought the piece. You can wait and wait and never get this kind of validation. I feel very fortunate and lucky,” said Leong in an interview last weekend.
Leong’s hard work is yielding results. “It has been great ever since. I have a show coming up this month,” he said.
Indeed, Leong’s work will be shown at The Parisian Laundry in St. Henri. The vernissage will showcase eight or nine pieces this coming Thursday, Jan. 10.
The inspiration behind his work comes from different sources. Leong is a third generation Chinese and he believes this contributed to his unique work, an example of East meets West.
“I draw a lot from traditional Chinese painting. But I use a Chinese background from a Western standpoint. I am in an in-between kind of point,” he said. He is the first generation in his family that does not speak Chinese; his father married a Western woman.
Leong explains that for him, art evolves and grows. It moves. In this case, he is giving a contemporary take to Chinese imagery, and giving it the originality that shimmers.
A lot of the images he uses come from Ancient Chinese art: snakes, dragons, and landscapes. The Leong twist gives life and animation to these quiet landscapes. “You can capture an event, such as a rainbow, or an animal in nature and bring it to life,” Leong said.
His pieces reflect the life Leong alludes to. The one above and to the right shows tree trunks and roots that seem to be swirling, giving life to the piece. The piece brings us back to a pond full of trees during the fall.
The second piece, above, brings us to a misty forest, where the monochromatic fog is contrasted with a colourful rainbow.
Leong works from memory: “For me, art is about being in the moment. When I don’t remember something I invent it,” he said.
Art is not just images to Leong, but about the feeling that things evoke in people. “I don’t document. I try to capture the feeling you get when you see something. I would call what I do “romantic expressionism.”
Leong was born in Western Canada and obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria but decided to study in Montreal because he wanted to experience life in a large city.
“I like Montreal and I also wanted to study at Concordia because of the professors,” he said.
He is now based in Montreal, since he is represented by the Parisian Laundry.
Those interested in attending Rick Leong’s vernissage next Thursday can go to the Parisan Laundry, located at 3550 St. Antoine West (Metro Lionel Groulx).
For information, call 514.989.1056