By Liam Fitzpatrick, TIME magazine
In the Autumn of 1997, Yau Leung was just starting to earn a minor artistic reputation when he slipped off a ladder in his studio, hit his head, and died. That the light should have left the eyes of Hong Kong's greatest photographer in so banal a manner makes contemplation of his passing especially difficult. If photographers are not felled covering disgraceful coups or scrappy jungle wars, posterity likes them to advance to gurgling senility, feted by models, retrospectives and hand-numbered editions. There is no romance in death by lapse of concentration — especially not in a man whose defining artistic characteristic was his undivided presence in, and intense focus on, the moment.
Hardly any of Yau's works are on public display in Hong Kong (although a few pieces were recently hanging in the Heritage Museum as part of a temporary exhibition on the history of cameras). He did not leave a family. His books are out of print or hard to find, and his prints are not available for purchase from any local galleries (however they can be bought from a small one in Toronto, established by the Hong Kong photographer Lee Ka-sing). Outside a tiny circle of dilettantes, nobody knows his name. Thus, 10 years after his death at the age of 56, Yau continues to be as obscure as he was in life....
Photo: Pictorial Publishers Ltd.