Paul Ching-Bor was born in 1963 in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. After studying sculpture for two years at Guangzhou Fine Art University, he spent another couple of years at the Jing De Zhen Ceramic Institute, in the Jiangxi province. In 1987 Ching-Bor moved to Sydney, Australia. There he focused on watercolors, portraying primarily the suburban neighborhood of Paddington, where his studio was located. In 1990 Ching-Bor received a scholarship sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and awarded by the Royal Agricultural Society for the study of fine art in New York. In the following year he received the Overseas Study Travel Grant from the Rotary Club of Camberwell, Victoria, Australia. For the next four years he saved money to insure that he would be able to prolong his stay beyond the scholarship’s term, and in 1996 he was able to realize a long-held desire to move to New York. “When I first walked down the streets of Manhattan I was curious about the impact this strident city and the jostling crowds would have on my work,” Ching-Bor recalled. “The structures, arches, and bridges immediately inspired me, and particularly suited my limited color palette. My favorite colors are black and white, and I found I was able to tackle New York subjects in a very free way that, in the early stages, suggests abstract painting.”
Ching-Bor finds the greatest connection is that of Abstract Expressionists, especially Franz Kline. In the works of Kline, Robert Motherwell, and other artists of the era, Ching-Bor found intriguing parallels with the theories of ancient Chinese scroll painters, a coalescence that has inspired his own personal blend of Eastern and Western approaches. In response to New York, Ching-Bor’s art evolved. Working on a big scale, his process involves laying down the fundamental part of the painting, which is the structure of the work. When the work dries, “the image bounces back.” “Then I look at it again,” says the artist, “The remains from the dematerialization become the new materialization of the work.”
Like John Marin, who painted dynamic, sparkling watercolors of the Brooklyn Bridge that expressed the vitality of New York from in the early twentieth century, Ching-Bor uses the bridge as an expressive form. However, for him, the bridge is less a symbolic motif than a form that coalesces with his subconscious and direct responses to the city. The dark, heavy surfaces, pierced with soft, streaked, and glimmering light, and the vertical thrusts, countered by plunging diagonals, are diagrams of the city as much as of the human psyche. “I have found my dialogue in the echoing steel structure,” he says. “The heavy weight of the steel depicts the burden we carry. The intricacy of the pylons is the conflicting issues in our society. The haunting emotion behind the steel is phenomenal.” Ching-Bor began his images of steel structures in 1996. These works are in tune with the rhythm of this time of defiance, tension, and gritty realism. At the same time, they are self-referential, reflecting Ching-Bor’s very personal response to his surroundings.
Ching-Bor has participated in many exhibitions in Australia and the United States, and has been the recipient of many prizes and awards. In 1999 he went to Turkey, where he created a group of works for a 2002 exhibition. In 2000 a solo show of his work was held at the Butler Institute in Youngstown, Ohio, and in the following year, he was invited to take part in an artist-in-residency program in Salzburg, Austria, sponsored by Neuhaus Gallery, Salzburg, and Sparkasse Bank. Ching-Bor’s works are in many private and public collections in the Australia, England, Japan, and the United States, including Hilton International, Sydney; Shell Chemicals, Melbourne, Australia; Camberwell Civic Centre, Melbourne; Mobil Oil, Melbourne; Pioneer International, Sydney; the Springfield Art Museum, Missouri; Ritz-Carlton, New York; Grand Hyatt International, Tokyo; Park Hyatt, Shanghai; Sparkasse Bank, Salzburg; Myriad Hotel, New York; and the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina.
PAUL CHING - BOR