The late Ming and early Qing (around the mid-17th century) was a period of drastic change in Chinese history, during which a number of artists created painting and calligraphic works that had a great impact on the development of Chinese painting and calligraphic art. Starting from tomorrow (December 24) to May 1, 2011, visitors to the Hong Kong Museum of Art will be able to appreciate about 80 paintings and calligraphies of that period.
The exhibition, "Nobility and Virtue - A Selection of Late Ming and Early Qing Paintings and Calligraphies from the Chih Lo Lou Collection", features paintings and calligraphic works by artists who lived in a time of transition and who were forced to contemplate drastic changes. They expressed their uneasy resignation, spiritual ideals and lofty aspirations through paintings and calligraphy that came in a wide array of styles, ushering in a new mainstream painting tradition. The works on display are all from the Chih Lo Lou Collection.
Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion (Non-profit Making) Ltd, the exhibition was officially opened today (December 23). Officiating guests included the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Raymond Young; the Chairman of the Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion (Non-profit Making) Ltd, Mr Ho Sai-chu; former Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, Mr Andrew Li; Convenor of the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Culture Association Ltd, Dr Lee Kok-Keung; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and the Chief Curator of the Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.
The Chih Lo Lou is a private collection assembled by Mr Ho Iu-kwong (1907-2006), who had a passion for Chinese paintings and calligraphy that began in the postwar years when Chinese artifacts were draining out of the country. Ho could not bear to simply look on and, resolving to preserve his national heritage, started to acquire masterpieces. The name of the collection, meaning "bliss", expresses the pleasure that one gains from viewing ancient masterpieces and also alludes to a common Chinese saying that it is bliss to do good deeds. The masterpieces in the Chih Lo Lou Collection, especially those from the late Ming and early Qing, are highly regarded by scholars and art circles around the world.
The years straddling the late Ming and the early Qing witnessed a dramatic change in politics, society and the economy which left their mark on the development of arts and culture. Chinese painting in particular ebbed and flowed against this backdrop with a large number of accomplished painters dedicated to perpetuating the great tradition and to bringing about a transformation. On one end of the painting spectrum, there were the eccentric artists with their unconventional works; on the other, there were the relatively orthodox ones with their synthetic paintings. The myriad styles so produced have combined to impress the world with the profundity and diversity of Chinese painting.
This most important period is highlighted in this exhibition, which features painting and calligraphy gems by such masters as Huang Daozhou (1585-1646), Lan Ying (1585-ca. 1664), Xiao Yuncong (1596-1669), Chen Zizhuang (1597-1647), Kuang Lu (1604-1651), Fang Yizhi (1611-1671), the Four Monks (also known as Hongren (1610-1664), Kuncan (1612-1673), Zhu Da (1626-1705) and Shitao (1642-1707)), Gong Xian (1619-1689), Zha Shibiao (1615-1697) and others.
Devastated by the tumultuous dynastic change, these artists continued to pledge allegiance to the Ming and to live as loyalists of the vanquished empire. Some of them put up staunch resistance until death, others withdrew from public service to demonstrate their unwavering loyalty, still others retreated to the cloisters and devoted themselves to painting. Their stylistically varied and yet unique works reflect not only their times but also the artists' resignation, reclusive ideals and uncompromised dignity. It is with these admirable artists in mind that the exhibition is entitled "Nobility and Virtue".
To deepen public knowledge of Chinese painting and calligraphy, the Museum of Art has invited scholars from different countries to give a series of talks during the exhibition period. For details, please see the Museum of Art's website at http://hk.art.museum. In support of the exhibition, a fully illustrated catalogue is now available at the Gift Shop of the Museum of Art.
The Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday and Friday, and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. On Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year's Eve, the museum will close at 5pm. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year. Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
For further information, call 2721 0116 or visit the Museum of Art's website.
Ends/Thursday, December 23, 2010
With his native land falling into alien hands, Hongren (1610-1664) became a monk when he was 38. He vented his nostalgia for his lost homeland in painting, calligraphy and writing. The "Scarlet Lodges" in this picture were painted when the artist, then 46, was on a visit to Mount Huang. The scantily textured motifs in light colour are primarily geometric and angular in form. The man-made trail, temple and boat contrast markedly with an absolute absence of men, inviting the viewer to share the sheer sense of solitude and tranquility that has claimed the heart and soul of the painter in seclusion.
"Landscapes depicting poems of Huang Yanlu" is a work by the late Ming monk Shitao (1642-1707). He was inspired by the poems of his friend Huang Yanlu (1661 - ca. 1725), who celebrated the picturesque landscape on his travels in Fujian and Guangdong. Author of the famous saying, "To travel extensively in search of the most wonderful landscapes", Shitao had his eyes fixed on the wonderful in his attempts to draw creative inspiration from extraordinary landscapes. In this painting, he chose to employ a variety of techniques to enhance the poetic and amazing. His landscapes can be meticulous or expressive in style, portrayed with a dry brush or washes, or lightly coloured or simply in ink.
Wars and disturbances taking place in the interim years between the Ming and Qing periods severed the contact between the Suzhou painter Huang Xiangjian (1609-1673) and his father, who was posted to Yunnan. Huang set out for Yunnan to look for his parents and the family was finally reunited after one and a half years. When Huang was back in Suzhou, he reproduced the scenery he saw on his travels in the painting, "Journey to find parents". His work captures the geography of Yunnan and Guizhou, characterised by conical hills extending to the horizon, or rapids underneath a great fall across which travellers have to navigate gingerly. On account of these exotic scenes and the courageous journey he made to bring his parents to safety, Huang is remembered in the history of painting.
The opening ceremony of the "Nobility and Virtue - A Selection of Late Ming and Early Qing Paintings and Calligraphies from the Chih Lo Lou Collection" was held today (December 23) at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Picture shows the officiating guests cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony. They are (from left) the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; Convenor of the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Culture Association Ltd, Dr Lee Kok-keung; Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Raymond Young; the Chairman of the Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion (Non-profit Making) Ltd, Mr Ho Sai-chu; former Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, Mr Andrew Li; and the Chief Curator of the Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.
Touring the exhibition are former Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, Mr Andrew Li (third left); Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Raymond Young (second right); and the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung (right)