The Chinese Fine Art collection houses the museum's collection of modern Chinese art and Guangdong paintings and calligraphy, the beginnings of which date back to 1964. The rich catalogue of works is the result of many purchases made by the museum itself, but its establishment has also depended on the invaluable support of several collectors, including Mr He Zizhong and Mr Wong Po-yeh (Guangdong paintings), Mr Lau Siu Lui (works from the Taiyilou collection of modern Chinese painting and calligraphy), Mr Wu Guanzhong (Wu Guanzhong's paintings) and Ms Linda Chang (the New Literati paintings). These generous donations have immeasurably enhanced the museum's collection, which now comprises over 5,000 works.
The collection is mainly divided into four categories: (1) paintings from Guangdong, (2) calligraphy from Guangdong, (3) the Lingnan School of painting and (4) modern Chinese painting. Representative items from the collection are selected for exhibition to depict how the art of Chinese painting and calligraphy has evolved in Guangdong, with a special focus on developments, also in modern Chinese art, in the 20th century.
Many artists in Guangdong have had an almost innate inclination to modernize. This propensity for change is exemplified in works by artists such as Zhang Mu, Li Jian, Su Renshan and Su Liupeng, whose unique personal styles and alternative modes of expression have served to inspire subsequent generations of artists throughout the twentieth century.
Guangdong has also seen the emergence of a succession of talented calligraphers like Chen Xianzhang, Kuang Lu, Song Xiang, Luo Shuzhong, He Shaoji and Jian Jinglun, etc. These artists sketch the development of Guangdong calligraphy from the middle of the Ming dynasty to the present day.
The Lingnan School has played an important role in the development of modern Chinese painting. The artistic origins of the School can be traced back to the Jiansu painters Song Guangbao and Meng Jinyi, who lived in Guangdong during the middle of the Qing dynasty, and their students Ju Chao and Ju Lian, also from Guangdong, in the late Qing. The founders of the Lingnan School, Gao Jianfu, Gao Qifeng and Chen Shuren, advocated a movement for "New Chinese Painting", and their theory and practice of blending Western techniques with Chinese art prompted an enthusiastic and stimulating response.
The impact of the Western tide of art that flooded into China in the 20th century triggered a transformation in modern Chinese art. Many artists tried to learn from Western styles and techniques, while others pursued studies in traditional painting, and these two currents gave birth to a new era in China. The works of Huang Binhong, Zhang Daqian, Lin Fengmian, Wu Guanzhong, Nie Ou and Zhang Yu are characterized by their unique styles that reveal the diverse developments in modern Chinese painting.