John Kwok, Paintings and Drawings

John Kwok, Sun-Spot on Field, 1963, ink on paper, 25 x 31 inches

The Ministry of Culture is pleased to partner with Realm to present a selection of original artworks by John Kwok, a pioneering Chinese American artist in Los Angeles, in celebration of Chinese New Year. The exhibition of paintings and drawings will be on view from Saturday, February 17th through Sunday March 11, 2018.

The artworks presented at Realm have only been exhibited at the Chinese American Museum (2005) and the Vincent Price Art Museum (2012) as part of the Getty Foundation’s initiative, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. Both exhibitions were curated by Sonia Mak.

Established in 2004 as a source for lovely objects for the home, Realm seeks to fortify and preserve Chinatown’s rich history and culture.

Realm is located in Los Angeles Chinatown’s historic Central Plaza
425 Gin Ling Way, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Open Wednesday through Monday 12-6:00 PM, Closed Tuesday



John Kwok was born in Shanghai, China in 1920. His family immigrated to the United States before Kwok was two, and they settled in Northern California. Kwok studied at Sacramento Junior College and won a full scholarship to study at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. While at Chouinard, Kwok served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

John Kwok (left), participated on the Jury of Selection and Awards for the
California Water Color Society, 1962. Copyright National Watercolor Society.

After the war, he did not return to art school; instead he chose to take a full-time job as a designer at I. Magnin department store on Wilshire Boulevard. He married Kathryn, and they held their wedding reception in this very space when it was the Hong Kong Café in 1947.

More than a decade later, Kwok went on to freelance as a designer for Bullocks Wilshire. He took additional jobs, working for clients such as Max Factor and Santa Fe Railroad, and painting privately commissioned portraits. Kwok actively participated in local and national watercolor societies throughout his life, namely the California Water Color Society (now the National Watercolor Society). He worked in a figurative abstract mode in his fine art practice, using gouache on illustrator board as his primary medium. Kwok continued to work, exhibit, and travel up until his death in 1983.

To learn more about John Kwok and other pioneering Chinese American artists please visit the ‘Round the Clock: Chinese American Artists Working in Los Angeles exhibition website here.

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