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Museum of Art features all the donated works by Wu Guanzhong

     The "Lofty Integrity: Donation of Works by Wu Guanzhong", which features the donation of 50 masterpieces by Wu Guanzhong, will run at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow (March 26) until July 4, 2010, offering the public an opportunity to share the hearty gift of the artist to Hong Kong.

     Officiating at the exhibition's opening ceremony today (March 25) was the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang. Other officiating guests were son of Mr Wu Guanzhong, Mr Wu Keyu; internationally renowned ink painter, Professor Liu Guosong; Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.

     Mr Tang Hoi-chiu noted that Wu Guanzhong had begun making generous donations of his masterpieces to public museums both domestic and foreign since 2000, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art was privileged enough to have received two ink paintings from the artist in 1995 to be followed by 12 oil paintings, ink paintings and manuscripts in 2002. Among them were "Two Swallows", named by the artist as his most classic work, and "Victoria Harbour" produced during the artist's first ever public demonstration, which shows that Hong Kong occupies a special place in the artist's heart.

     In 2009, Wu donated another 33 paintings mostly done between 2005 and 2009 to the Museum of Art.

     Mr Tang said that Wu Guanzhong was one of the most important and innovative artists in the 20th-century Chinese art for the explorations and contributions he has made by blending the essences of the East and the West through the untiring dialogues engaged in between oil painting and ink painting. On display in this exhibition are all the donations by Wu, most of which are making their debut, offering a comprehensive showcase of the master's art over the years.

     Apart from the "Two Swallows" and "Former Residence of Qiu Jin", highlight exhibits include "Memories of Home", "The Easterly Breeze Blows Open the Wisteria", "Waterway", "Reminiscence of Jiangnan", "Mending Nets", "Patchwork", "Tashilhunpo Monastery", "Cascade", "Bitter Melon Homestead", "City Night", "Victoria Harbour", "Mama (The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Characters Series)", "Day and Night", and "Leaving Youth Behind".

     Wu was born in Yixing, Jiangsu, in 1919, and went to study in France on a national scholarship in 1946. Upon his return in 1950, he taught at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1991, he was honoured by the French Ministry of Culture with the Officier dans L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, to be followed in 1992 by the exhibition "Wu Guanzhong: A Twentieth-century Chinese Painter", or the first ever solo show for a living Chinese artist presented by the British Museum. In 1993, he received a gold medal from the Paris city to coincide with the exhibition "Encres Récentes de Wu Guanzhong" (Recent Ink Paintings of Wu Guanzhong) organised by the Musee Cernuschi, Paris. Back home in China, he was selected delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in 1994 and was honoured with a solo exhibition held by the Ministry of Culture in 1999. In 2002, Wu became the first Chinese national to be named Correspondant by the Academie des Beaux-Arts de I'Institut de France. In 2006, the Beijing Palace Museum ran a feature exhibition in his honour to mark its first collection of a living artist's works, including the masterpiece "Yangzi River" donated by Wu. That year also saw the Chinese University of Hong Kong conferring an Honorary Doctor of Arts to the artist.

     Hong Kong entered Wu's life some 60 years ago when the artist stopped over briefly en route his return by sea from Marseille, France, before changing for his homeward bound train. When he revisited the city in 1985, he was amazed by how it had transformed into a modern metropolis in just over three decades. From then on, he became a frequent guest. In 1995 and 2002, the two thematic exhibitions "Vision and Revision: Wu Guanzhong" and "Wu Guanzhong: A Retrospective" hosted by the Museum of Art received overwhelming response from the public.

     To tie in with the exhibition, the Museum of Art will organise a series of special lectures during the exhibition period. The lecture entitled "As Time Goes by: Wu Guanzhong's 'Hong Kong Encounter'" will be held on April 10. The speaker will be the Advisor of the Art Retreat Museum in Singapore, Mr Fong Yuk-yan. The lecture entitled "Impressions of the Masters: Snapshots of My Interviews with Wu Guanzhong and Other Famous Chinese Painters" on May 8 will be hosted by the artist, Mr Mok E-den. The lecture entitled "Close-up of Wu Guanzhong: Behind-the-Scenes Anecdotes about the Exhibition and the Special TV Series" on July 3 will be hosted by the Curator (Xubaizhai) of the Museum of Art, Mr Szeto Yuen-kit. Conducted in Cantonese, the lectures, on a first-come-first-served basis, are free for admission.

     A catalogue of the exhibition produced by the Museum of Art and will be available at the gift shop of the museum.

     The Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It opens from 10am to 6pm from Sundays to Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available for full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

     For enquiries, visit the Museum of Art's website  or call 2721 0116.

Ends/Thursday, March 25, 2010


Exhibit on display, "Victoria Harbour", 2002. Wu Guanzhong recalled, "it was an earnest request from the people and the Museum of Art which asked me to give my first ever public demonstration of on-site sketching. I had never had anyone looking on while I painted, much less to give a demonstration. You can't get into the mood when it is a show. They explained however few painters did on-site sketching these days and young artists simply had no idea of how to go about it. And they persisted asking me to take the opportunity to show some support to our youngsters. Faced with this enthusiasm from the host and the audience, I couldn't say no and agreed to just this once as a kind of 'service'. Since it's a service, success or not is out of the question." Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


Exhibit on display, "Two Swallows", 1981. Wu Guanzhong said, "On and off, I have been painting the Jiangnan area all my life. Of all my works on this subject, or the entire corpus of my works for that matter, 'Two Swallows' is the most outstanding and most representative." Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


Exhibit on display, "Cascade", circa 1986. Of all the waterfalls he has explored, Wu Guanzhong thinks that "Dalong Qiu in Yandang Mountain has the highest fall but lacks water volume. The Huangguoshu Falls is the largest waterfall in China but lacks charm, being fully visible from the road. Jiuzhaigou Valley, however, has many waterfalls and is easier to paint." The sketches he made of the falls in 1985 were developed into this ambitious ink piece measuring almost three metres wide. It can be seen that the contrasting blacks and whites, planes and lines, stillness and motion are the most captivating elements to the artist. Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


Exhibit on display, "Patchwork", 2009. In terms of visual elements, this painting is arguably abstract. The inspiration comes from the patched-up clothes of the poor, or rather life, experience and emotions. Wu Guanzhong has admitted that he dislikes pure abstraction without content and that the divide between the figural and the abstract is no more than a fine line. This line, Wu believes, is one of emotions and must not be allowed to break in any case. Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


Exhibit on display, "Dandelions", 2006. Delicate and yet sending its seeds far and wide, the dandelion is used by Wu Guanzhong as a simile for his school (now China Academy of Art) and its achievement in the hope that the torch of art can be passed on for generations to come. Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.







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