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Museum of Art to hold Ha Bik-chuen retrospective exhibition

     An exhibition, "From Common to Uncommon - the Legend of Ha Bik-chuen", organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art in memory of the late local artist Ha Bik-chuen, will be held at the Museum from tomorrow (April 15) to July 17.

     Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, organised by the Museum of Art and supported by the Hong Kong Sculpture Society, the exhibition features 82 works by Ha, including prints, sculptures, ink and mixed media works.

     The exhibition was opened today (April 14) by the Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; Mrs Ha Leung Siu-mei; Mr Simon Ha; Chairman of the Art Museum Advisory Panel, Mr Vincent Lo; President of the Hong Kong Sculpture Society, Mr Victor Tai; Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.

     Ha Bik-chuen, who was affectionately known as "The Venerable Mr Ha" in Hong Kong art circles, earned his nickname for his lifelong pursuit and cultivation of art.  The years of his active career saw the transformation of Hong Kong from a tiny city with a struggling, developing economy into a world-class metropolis.

     Mr Tang said Ha did not limit himself to any medium, but opened himself up to all forms of art. His early works were sculptures and prints made of bamboo, wood and miscellaneous objects he came across.  They were often collages made up of a wide variety of material using a crafting idiom - features that reflected Ha's background as a crafter and his unique style.

     Mr Tang said, "His later prints involved various forms and images, both figurative and abstract, with lots of thrown-outs such as industrial scraps, useless auto parts and household discards. By reassembling them, he created a unique aesthetics of beau sauvage, an echo of naïve folk art.

     "Towards his later years, Uncle Ha turned more to ink painting and developed a style of his own, one that merges the abstraction in his art, the aleatoric elements of ink painting and the brush strokes of Chinese calligraphy. Another aspect of his diverse interests was photography. As he strolled along the streets, he would take pictures of anything he saw, such as his own silhouette on the ground, the crisscrossing roots of trees, fallen leaves, sprouting branches and rusty rings at the Cattle Depot, the patchy grain on rocks and stones. These elements represented his artistic alertness to what went on around him and his keen eye for detail.  He was always laden with photographic equipment to take photos at exhibitions, and it was regarded as an integral part of every exhibition and art event. The pictures and photographic records he left behind are an important documentation of the art scene in Hong Kong," Mr Tang said.

     Ha Bik-chuen (1925-2009) was born in the Xinhui District of Guangdong, China. He moved to Macau in 1949 and settled in Hong Kong in 1957, where he began practising art creation in the 1960s. Ha excelled in making sculptures, prints, ink art and mixed media works. He was the Founding President of the Hong Kong Sculpture Society, and member of many art groups such as the Hong Kong Visual Arts Society, Hong Kong Sculptors Association and Hong Kong Graphics Society. His works were displayed at the Hong Kong Museum of Art's "Contemporary Hong Kong Art Exhibitions" and "Contemporary Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibitions", and also at the "Art Now Hong Kong Exhibition" tour in England in 1971. His prints have been exhibited in Hong Kong, USA, Poland, Norway and Yugoslavia. Ha received many awards, including the Urban Council Fine Arts Awards (Sculpture and Print) in 1975 and the Award for Arts Achievement (Visual Arts) from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 2003.

     The Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It opens from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday and on Fridays, and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays).

     For details of the exhibition, please visit the Museum of Art's website or call 2721 0116.

Ends/Thursday, April 14, 2011


"The Realm of Thing" by Ha Bik-chuen. This artwork was created in the 1970s, an important decade in Ha's artistic career. In 1975, he received the Urban Council Fine Arts Awards (Sculpture and Print) at the Contemporary Hong Kong Art Exhibition, a significant moment for him as it meant professional recognition in his area of expertise. Later, in 1978, art critic Nigel Cameron introduced Ha's works to the Norwegian International Print Biennale, where they proved to be hugely popular. A total of 71 of his prints were sold, and the copyrights of some were bought out. The financial support that came in the wake of the awards affirmed Ha's decision to make art his lifelong career.


"Untitled" by Ha Bik-chuen. Line is the prominent element of this artwork. His fluid, decisive and imaginative strokes result in the fluent composition of a portrait. As for the background, he uses light ink with washes for the peripheral area. Alongside original brushwork invented by Ha, ink spots of various size close in on the subject to create a sense of depth. The coloured section gives more volume to the lines, so that the figure appears to levitate on the mock-stone background, creating a sense of space and hence a new spiritual realm. Ha was well past seventy when he took the bold step of using ink as a medium to create three-dimensional visual effects on a two-dimensional plane. In doing so, he included his experience of printmaking and sculpture.


"Joy Renewed" by Ha Bik-chuen. Ha displayed remarkable versatility in his art creations. He even went on to develop his own technique of "layered-paper printmaking" - this artwork is one such using this technique.


"Melodious Rhythm" by Ha Bik-chuen. This artwork is Ha's last sculpture, and can be regarded as a summation of recurrent features in his art. Ha always loved using music and musical notes as themes. In "Melodious Rhythm", the linear pattern of the corrugated paper and the colours create a visual dynamic like a flowing melody. The tree trunk lies vertically on the corrugated paper, a strong statement with interesting details. It does not appear obtrusive against the rhythm of the background; on the contrary, it seems all the more three dimensional, like a musical note on a stave, setting the key for a score about to be born.


This photograph records Ha Bik-chuen's "drawing" on a low wall next to his studio. He used a screwdriver to draw a mischievous face. The broken pipe on the wall together with the rich colours of the moss and the rusty water inspired him; the simple and neat lines reveal a work created with the heart, the eyes and the hands in unison. The colours on the wall changed with the weather and conferred life on the piece. For Ha, everywhere around him was a source of inspiration for his art. This piece is a classic example of his vivid imagination and skillful technique.


"Recluse" by Ha Bik-chuen. When Ha went on a European tour in the mid-1990s, one of the stops was Ronchamp in eastern France. The purpose of this long journey was to see for himself the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, a work of the renowned architect Le Corbusier. Yet, in "Recluse", besides rendering a true outline of the chapel, Ha creates a poetic and rhythmic ambiance with an original artistic idiom. He uses symbolism to invoke a state of calm which is out of this world. The white cloud represents "heaven", and the twin leaves, "earth"; heaven and earth are connected by the doves, with the chapel in the centre. This is one of Ha's favourite pieces, and was eventually used on the final page of his Requiem Mass's programme, a perfect conclusion to his artistic life.


"The Queen" by Ha Bik-chuen.


The Hong Kong Museum of Art's new exhibition, "From Common to Uncommon - the Legend of Ha Bik-chuen", was opened today (April 14). Officiating guests are (from left) Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; Chairman of the Art Museum Advisory Panel, Mr Vincent Lo; Mrs Ha Leung Siu-mei; the Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; Mr Simon Ha; President of the Hong Kong Sculpture Society, Mr Victor Tai; and Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.


Officiating guests tour the exhibition.




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