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Paul Ching-Bor

Paul Ching-Bor

area: Fine Art, Painting

INSOMNIOUS LIGHTS -- THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING V. watercolor on Arches paper, 120 x 103" in two panels, 2016 © Paul Ching-Bor

Key Facts


Australia, USA


Fine Art, Painting


Jersey City, NJ

recommending institution

frei_raum Q21 exhibition space

time period

February 2020 - February 2020

A contemporary painter whose dynamic cityscapes represent a bold new exploration of the medium, Paul Ching-Bor was born in 1963 in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the capital of the province of Guangdong. At age twelve, he began his study of art at the Youth Arts Centre in Guangzhou. He remained at the school for six years while attending high school. He went on to study sculpture for two years at Guangzhou Fine Art University. He spent an additional two years at the Jing De Zhen Ceramic Institute, in the Jiangxi province, where his training consisted of courses in academic fine-art techniques. 

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 from 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.” 

Indeed, the art with which Ching-Bor finds the greatest connection is that of the New York School Abstract Expressionists, especially Franz Kline.  In the works of Kline, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, 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. He began to work on a big scale, using the largest and heaviest papers that he could find, in the thought of no compromise to the conventional watercolor’s principle. His process involves laying down the fundamental part of the painting, which is the structure of the work. He then proceeds to glaze and splash paint on the paper until the image disappears. 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…”

Through this method, Ching-Bor has reconsidered the qualities of watercolor that are often thought to be intrinsic to the medium, such as sensitivity, delicacy, and transparency.  According to him, his images are “not so transparent, not so spontaneous in some parts, and not so ‘watercolor’ anymore. They are the substantial, developed face of watercolor painting.” This approach is robust and dynamic; at the same time, the works have a quiet intensity in their melancholic and stark qualities. 

Living in New York has suited what Ching-Bor has sought to express in his art, and he found the spirit of the city manifested in many of its facets. “When I look at life in New York,” he observed, “I see people having come from another country or state and living in Manhattan for some kind of purpose. People are not living freely; they live for the ‘reason’. The contrast between dark and light is so much a part of the experience of living in New York.” 

Through painting urban ambiance, Ching-Bor has found a vehicle for expressing the city’s intensity, loneliness, ambition, and drive. Lately the subject that has gripped him the most is the Queensborough Bridge at Fifty-Ninth Street and the East River, a short walk from his home and studio on East Seventy-Fifth Street and York Avenue. Like John Marin, who painted dynamic, sparkling watercolors of the Brooklyn Bridge that expressed the vitality of New York from the 1910s through the 1940s, Ching-Bor uses the bridge as an expressive form. However, for him, the bridge is less a symbolic motif than a plan or 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 late 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. The works he produced on the sojourn were included in A New Vision of Salzburg (2001).   

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 received a 2013 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Solo Exhibitions

Dramatized Propositions, The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

DRENCHED Monumental Watercolors By Paul Ching - Bor, Harold B.Lemmerman Gallery, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey

Paul Ching - Bor IMBUED, Stadtische Galerie im Schloss, Isny, Germany; SUR Paintings By Paul Ching - Bor, Richard M.Ross Art Museum, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio

Künstlerhaus Marktoberdorf - Paul Ching-Bor | Dynamik der Stille, Marktoberdorf, Germany

2011, 2010
Schultz Contemporary - Berlin, Paul Ching - Bor Parallel Passage, Berlin, Germany; NEUHAUSER KUNSTMüHLE, NEUHAUSER KUNSTMüHLE -  SOMMERAUSSTELLUNG PAUL CHING - BOR, Salzburg, Austria;
ART KARLSRUHE 2011/ONE ARTIST/PAUL CHING - BOR Werke 1992 - 2010, Karlsruhe, Germany

Reeves Contemporary, New York, Chelsea, New York City; Neuhauser Kunstmühle, Sommerausstellung der Neuhauser Kunstmühle: Paul Ching-Bor, Salzburg, Austria 

Spanierman Gallery, LLC, High Anxiety— New York City, New York City

Graydon Gallery, In Transit, Brisbane, Australia

Spanierman Gallery, LLC, Echo in Steel, New York City; Glen Eira City Gallery, The Pilgrimage, Traveling exhibition, Melbourne, Australia; Vista Blue Contemporary Art Gallery, The Pilgrimage, Traveling exhibition, Sydney, Australia; Schloss Neuhaus, Der Neuhauser Herbst, Salzburg, Austria

Mary Place Gallery, Oppressive Glory, Traveling exhibition, Sydney, Australia; Butler Institute of American Art, Oppressive Glory, Traveling exhibition, Youngstown, Ohio, USA

Brighton Horizons Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Brighton Horizons Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Brighton Horizons Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Brighton Horizons Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Melalecua Gallery, Anglesea, Australia;  Mary Place Gallery, Sydney, Australia

Brighton Horizon Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Melaleuca Gallery, Anglesea, Australia

Hilton International, Sydney, Australia

Juried Exhibitions

The 2016 New Jersey Arts Annual: Fine Arts, The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Personal Structures: Crossing Borders, Palazzo Mora/Palazzo Bembo, The 56th Biennale di Venezia 2015,  Venice, Italy

Art On Paper 2008, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina

Allentown Art Museum 29th Juried Show, Myth, Magic, and Meaning, Allentown, Pennsylvania

67th National Annual midyear Exhibition, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

Allentown Art Museum 28th Juried Show, Allentown, Pennsylvania

Allentown Art Museum 27th Juried Show, Allentown, Pennsylvania

Watercolor West 31st Annual Juried Exhibition, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside California; 36th Annual Juried Exhibition, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York

Group Exhibitions – selected

Open Space, The Finite Frontier, Curtis Center for the Art, Greenwood Village, Denver, Colorado

PHASES, Art 345, New York City

States of Water, States of Mind, Art 345, New York City,  SPECTRUM, Art 345, New York City

ON + OF PAPER,  Art 345, New York City;  The Real World, Eckert Fine Art, Pine Plains, New York

MUSE, Works On Paper, Anderson Contemporary, New York City

New Jersey State Council on the Arts: Visual Arts Fellowship Showcase Exhibition, Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, Long Beach Island, New Jersey; FÜNF FÜR BERLIN UFERHALLEN, Berlin, Germany; URBANISM PAUL CHING - BOR + SHARON FEDER, Goodwin Fine Art, Denver, Colorado

“KUNSTRÄUME” / "ART SPACES" Einladung in die temporären kulturellen Zonen,  Frankfurt, Germany

Stefan Beltzig / Paul Ching – Bor Expatriots From New York, Kunstpavillon, Munich, Germany;  BABYLONS SCHATTEN III, Kunsthalle WhiteBox, Munich, Germany; MUNICH CONTEMPO – International Contemporary Art Fair, Munich, Germany

MULTIPOINT INTERNATIONAL ART SYMPOSIUM 2010 -- PROXIMITY, Gallery UNIVERZUM, University of Constantine the Philosopher, Nitra, Slovakia;  GE 4th Annual Asian Pacific Heritage Month Art Exhibition, General Electric Company, Fairfield, Connecticut

“Metropolitan Memories” Hudson County Arts Annual 2009, The Brennan Gallery at Justice William Brennan Court House, Jersey City, New Jersey;  State Of The Art 2009: National Biennial Watercolor Invitational, Parkland Art Gallery, Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois

Sprawl, Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, New Jersey

New York City in Art, Spanierman Gallery, New York

Steindruck 03, Galerie Schloss Neuhaus, Salzburg, Austria; Ching – Bor / Lehmpfuhl Lithographien Aus Der Werkstatt, Galerie Schloss Neuhaus, Salzburg, Austria

Steel City, Sangre De Cristo Arts & Conference Center, Pueblo, Colorado;  Allied Artists of America 2002 Annual Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York City

Salzburg in Neuen Ansichten, Galerie Schloss Neuhaus, Salzburg, Austria

64th Annual Midyear Exhibition, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Watercolor USA 2000, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Missouri

Paper Works 99, Ridgefield Guild of Artists, Connecticut; 63rd Annual Midyear Exhibition, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio;  Watercolor USA 1999 Exhibition, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Missouri; Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors 18th Annual Exhibition, Arts Guild of Old Forge, New York; Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition 1999, Foothills Art Center, Golden,  Colorado; Allied Artists of America 1999 Annual Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York City

Allied Artists of America 1998 Annual Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York City

Allied Artists of America 1997 Annual Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York City;  American Artists Professional League Annual Exhibition, New York City

The Contemporary Realism Exhibition, Philadelphia;  Wynne Prize Exhibitions 1996; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Wynne Prize Exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia;  Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize Touring Exhibition, regional galleries in N.S.W. and Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Wynne Prize Exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Sydney Morning Herald Art Prize Exhibition, associated with the City of Sydney Cultural Council, Australia

Project info


The project I would like to propose in this residency, that is about the painting -- the watercolor painting as a work, not seen as the sketch, leisurable medium of this medium’s usual kind. In the sense of a waken up from the lyrical “utopian searching”, turning around and confronting the perceptibility of the "incontestable reality" around us today, not avoiding the compelling truth of our time and the ambiance.

This project will take watercolor such delicate medium as a measurement, to investigate the possibility of it’s transcendence. When this conventional, romantic medium being imbued with the dynamic aspects of our contemporary existence. Negotiating the ways to convey fragility, vulnerability and apprehension through the perception of the grey zone, where psychology overlaps with landscape - where the human consciousness seeks both inspiration and liberation from environmental constraints. Perhaps the extreme opposite, the delicate nature of this medium on paper, opposed by the fundamental heaviness of the themes of the work, as much as the in excess way of the handling, those would wear each other out in their most daring, imposing manner on the surface of the paper.  This is the long term attempt with my work, would this be a great deal of interest to carry it out in the city of Vienna?

I believe the Q21 will provide me with the unique opportunity to transcend my vision into the body of work I have planned to make there, while exploring the possibility of life absent of many of the daily activities that currently I have engaged, allowing me to fully submerge in my creative processes. Because the extraordinary richness of the history of the city Vienna, and because the different form of art Vienna has offered, as a creative individual, I will be openminded. I would investigate, then taking in the necessary “matter” in my making of art. And as the selected artist of the Q21 residency, I certainly would consider the most beneficial aspect of the residency, making the most of it.   

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