The exhibition "Sounds in the Grass: Selected Works of Insects by Chao Shao-an", which showcases 40 works by Chao Shao-an, is being held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum from today (November 13) until February 23, 2015, offering visitors insight into the naturalistic tradition of the Lingnan school of painting.
The fine weather of South China (Lingnan) allows flowers to bloom all year round, providing endless subjects for artists to study. Artists of the Lingnan school place a great emphasis on observation of nature, which is demonstrated by the numerous works of flowers and insects created by some of the early masters of the school such as Song Guangbao, Ju Lian, Gao Jianfu and Gao Qifeng. Chao Shao-an, being a student of Gao Qifeng, also followed the tradition of the Lingnan school and practised sketching from life as well as studying insect specimens in his studio.
Chao Shao-an insisted on drawing outdoors and observed nature to find inspiration. He used simple and condensed brushstrokes to depict flowers and insects, and infused all of his artworks with an intense sense of life. The body structures of the insects including the head, thorax, abdomen, antennae, mouth and eyes are all clearly defined.
Works of flowers and insects by Chao were largely executed in small formats such as album leaves. The use of format and the compositions became very important in directing the viewers' attention towards flowers or insects. Very often a flower is the main subject occupying a primary position, and the insect plays a secondary role, but there are also many cases in which flowers are placed in a corner, leaving a large void in the centre. The insects are shown standing upright or climbing or hanging upside-down on branches that stretch out diagonally from the flowers, creating a visual balance that leads the eye back and forth between flowers and insects.
The most important kind of insect for Chao was the cicada, which became a recurring subject in his work. The cicada is a symbol of virtue and integrity with which the artist identified. The museum has specially selected a series of works of cicadas including "Cicadas" and "Cicada and fallen leaf" for display at the exhibition, giving visitors an opportunity to get acquainted with these works.
The 40 works by Chao featured at the exhibition were carefully selected from the collections of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Hong Kong Museum of Art to show Chao's personal sentiments and compliments towards nature as well as how he inherited the naturalistic tradition of the Lingnan school.
To coincide with the exhibition, a special programme entitled "Sounds in the Grass - Demonstration of Ink Painting" will be held on March 5 next year, from 3pm to 4.30pm at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Mr Wo Yue-kee, a student of Chao Shao-an, will demonstrate the painting of flowers and insects. Fifty seats are available for the demonstration and advance application is required. For details, please contact the museum's Education Team at 2180 8260.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is located at 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin. It opens from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and from 10am to 7pm on weekends and public holidays. The museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
For details of the exhibition, please visit the Hong Kong Heritage Museum's website at www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/eng/exhibitions/exhibition_details.aspx?exid=211 or call 2180 8188.
Ends/Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:18
Picture shows "Coxcomb" by Chao Shao-an. This painting is now on display at the "Sounds in the Grass: Selected Works of Insects by Chao Shao-an" exhibition.
Picture shows "Cicadas" by Chao Shao-an. The artwork is featured at the exhibition.
Picture shows "Caterpillar" by Chao Shao-an. The artwork is featured at the exhibition.