Patrick Warsing Chu Foon was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 3rd October 1932. His father was a Chinese immigrant and his mother was of African descent. They lived above his father’s shop on Park Street in an area of the capital that was a melting pot of Eastern and European shop owners, Chinese, Portuguese, French and Spanish. He attended Rosary Boys RC School and later Tranquility Intermediate for his higher education.
He developed a talent for drawing butterflies, peacocks and the nature scenes he saw on the Chinese Art his father had brought from his homeland. Carnival too, was to inspire Pat’s love of colour. Because of designing Carnival costumes later in life, he developed a keen eye for colour.
In 1963 Chu Foon received a scholarship to study at the University of the Americas, Mexico, where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine and Applied Arts in 1967. He continued his studies in sculpture at the Universidad National de Mexico, Academia San Carlos. He was honoured to be the first Trinidadian and one of the first Caribbean artists to exhibit work at the International Salon, Museum of Fine Arts, Mexico. On his return to Trinidad and Tobago in 1968, Chu Foon joined the Ministry of Culture as a teacher II at the Teachers Training College. In 1973 he became a Cultural Officer II within the Ministry. The Ministry was subsequently divided in 1981, becoming the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Youth Affairs, where Chu Foon held office as the Acting Director of Culture from 1981 to 1984 and Cultural Officer II from 1984 until he retired from the Ministry in 1988.
Chu Foon is recognised in his home country as well as abroad; his first honour being the Chase Manhattan Award for painting in 1960. He went on to gain the Hemi Scholarship Award from the University of the Americas in 1963 and various Trinidad Art Society awards. In 1983 he was the first artist to receive the Hummingbird Medal, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s national awards, for sculpture.
About his work, Chu Foon says: “I am concerned with man’s existence in time and space – time exists because of man’s awareness of his existence.” As a result space becomes a reality with which he can refer to related images and concepts within the infinite plane. “My paintings deal mainly with spatial elements – outside universal space and its equilibrium with inner space in which I try to relate concepts resulting from mind-space images which are inherent of spiritually perceived.” “My sculptures are extensions of my paintings, occupying an area of positive space – a point of reference within space which we all share in relation to an infinite” Chu Foon has held many One-Man Exhibitions between 1962 and 1991 both abroad and here on his native soil. Along with his wife Lisa Henry Chu Foon, three joint exhibitions were held at the Aquarela Galleries in Trinidad in 1986, 1988 and 1990, respectively. His many commissions include the Ghandi Statue, located in Kew Place, Port of Spain, “Tribute to the Steelband Movement” at the Port of Spain City Council/ Lions Club, “Claude Noel” ISCOTT Point Lisas and many abstract paintings located at the Bank of Nova Scotia, Trinidad and Tobago Limited. Patrick Chu Foon died July 12, 1998 by drowning.
ARTIST STATEMENT “True art is universal in time, place and content. I speak of time because I exist. I speak of space because space is timeless. Time exists because of man, Man without time is infinite.”