The Rich, The Poor and The Snob


As a painter, Luis Chan prided himself on his self-taught background. Dazzling art circles with his realistic and figurative watercolour landscapes, he was crowned “King of Watercolour” in the 1930s. He remained active until the later 1940s, earning critical acclaim for his paintings, exhibitions, art reviews and efforts to build networks to connect Chinese and overseas painters. However, when the Western modern art trend arrived in Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s, landscape sketching was left out. In 1962, Chan’s work was rate “out of date” and was not selected for the “Hong Kong Art Today” exhibition, organised by the City Gall Art Gallery and Museum (today’s HKMoA). That terrible blow motivated Chan to blaze a new trail. A long period of exploration and experimentation followed. In 1969, he presented The rich, the poor and the snob, which demonstrates a striking individual style. Chan splashed colours randomly on the papers and allowed them to run. The pigment marks guided his creative ideas, giving rise to all sorts of whimsical characters that he created spontaneously. The figures have strange faces and varied shapes and forms. With this surrealistic approach, he constructed a fantastic metropolis in which all beings co-exist.

Object Information

Date Created:


Local ID:



Modern Art

Place of Creation/Discovery:

Hong Kong


76.5 x 454.5 cm


Luis Chan (1905-1995)


Monotype and acrylic on paper


20th Century


Western Media Painting, figure


Hong Kong Museum of Art