An exhibition using sculptural and installation art to construct a Chinese garden and a literati’s studio is now on display at the Tsuen Wan Town Hall from tomorrow (August 14) until August 27.
Entitled “Soulful Landscape within Qi Quan Zhai – Works by Hanison Lau”, the exhibition gives visitors an opportunity to experience peace of mind and soul in a serene setting where they can get a sense of tranquility treasured by traditional Chinese literati.
“Shuzhai”, or Chinese scholar’s studio, and Chinese garden are places where the literati read, write, meditate, taste tea and appreciate their collections. They demonstrate not only the appreciation of nature from an aesthetic point of view, but also reflect the character and interests of the owner.
In the “Soulful Landscape within Qi Quan Zhai” exhibition, Lau presents his recent wood sculptures and large-scale installations, and names this exhibition after his own “Shuzhai” – “Qi Quan Zhai”, a place for meditation and creation of his art works. For this exhibition, he uses a natural resource - wood - as the medium, and the techniques in contemporary art to reveal the unique imagery of Chinese gardens and literati’s studio. The exhibition begins with a long wooden bridge set with artificial landscape on both sides in the exhibition hall. It leads the audience into an elegant and tranquil garden, and finally to Lau’s meticulously designed studio.
On the long desk in the studio, Lau places 28 small and refined wooden sculptures, just like the curios collected by Chinese literati in ancient times. They are not only exquisitely designed objects, but some of the art works have practical use as well. For example, “The Fragrance” is a censer for burning incense; “Net of Fragrance” is a burner to fumigate handkerchiefs; “Withered Lotus” is a bell for calling servants; “In the Woods” is a basket used for carrying stationery for outing. Lau creates space enough for audiences to appreciate his art works, so as to sense the leisurely delights of daily lives of Chinese literati in ancient times.
Loving to create the works of installation with ready-made objects, Lau also has a keen interest in Chinese history, literature and traditional opera when he was young. Since 2006, he has been focusing on the prevailing customs of Chinese literati in the Ming Dynasty. In his solo exhibition, “Poem•Imagine”, in 2006, Lau chose 12 poems from the Tang and Song dynasties as the introductory concepts, and reconstructed antiques found in literati’s studio with modern materials such as wood crates, glass, metals and even ready-made objects, to imitate and interpret the artistic concepts of the ancient poems.
In 2007, Lau further developed the antiques series into an interactive installation piece “Tabletop Garden”. He made 10 refined miniature desktop gardens, and gave them to relatives and friends. Then, Lau observed and recorded their approaches of communicating and spending time with the miniature gardens, and how they incorporated the works of art into their lives, bringing back the ancient literati culture of collection. He believed that a miniature indoor garden was more in line with the living space of modern people because it allowed users to enjoy natural scenery within arm’s reach.
The “Soulful Landscape within Qi Quan Zhai” is the second exhibition organised under the Artists in the Neighbourhood Scheme IV by the Art Promotion Office (APO) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. A selection of the exhibits will be on display at the Tin Ping Shopping Centre at the Tin Ping Estate in Sheung Shui from August 29 to September 9.
Free guided tours will be offered to the public and school groups. For bookings, contact the Community Art Team of the APO on 3101 2712 or 3101 2713.
To learn more about the artist and his work, visit the APO's website: http://www.artistneighbourhood.info/.
The Tsuen Wan Town Hall is located at 72 Tai Ho Road, Tsuen Wan. The Exhibition Hall is open daily from 10am to 8pm. The Tin Ping Shopping Centre is located at the Tin Ping Estate, Sheung Shui, and is open daily from 9am to 9pm. Admission is free.
Ends/Wednesday, August 13, 2008