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June
Sun Xingge paintings and calligraphy featured at Museum of Art

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Sun Xingge - Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, an exhibition of works by one of Hong Kong's greatest 20th century artists, will be held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow, June 13, until August 20.

Sun, who died in 1996, tirelessly devoted himself to artistic theory and creation, the Acting Assistant Director (Heritage and Museums) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Mr Gerard Tsang Chu-chiu, said today (June 12) at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

"His works, blending poetry, painting and calligraphy, are manifestations of the sentiments and spirit of a traditional Chinese painter cum calligrapher," Mr Tsang said.

He announced that Sun's family had donated 120 of his works to the museum's permanent collection.

"In commemoration of this gracious act, the museum has selected 38 representative works of Chinese painting and calligraphy created by Sun from the 1970s to the 1990s for this special exhibition," he said.

"This is the first exhibition of Sun's work since 1977. It is hoped that visitors will appreciate anew Sun's unyielding integrity and acquire a better understanding of recent developments in Chinese painting and calligraphy in Hong Kong."

Sun Xingge was born in 1897 in Rongcheng, Jieyang district, Guangdong Province. He was educated in classical Chinese literature, history and poetry under the rigorous tutelage of learned scholars. He founded painting societies and magazines while studying in Shanghai and showed his paintings and calligraphy there and in Beijing. The Shanghai magazine The Young Companion even named him one of the "three great modern painters" alongside Wu Changshuo (1844-1927) and Gao Jianfu (1879-1951).

During the Sino-Japanese War, he stayed in Rongchen to help the authorities organize charity exhibitions of paintings and calligraphy and also actively participated in armed resistance against the Japanese and national salvation activities.

In late 1949, he moved to Hong Kong, becoming a close friend of Li Tiefu (1869-1952), Pu Xinyu (1896-1963) and Siu Fai Wing (1947- ). He exhibited successfully in Chaozhou, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Sun's paintings of landscapes, plum blossoms, orchids, chrysanthemums, bamboo, shrimps and crabs are rich in life and ingenuity.

Orchids, one of his favourite subjects, were depicted with free and vigorous brushstrokes that appeared to express not only the proud character of these flowers but also the artist's aloofness and indifference to fame or fortune. His lively portrayal of shrimps and crabs was another indication of his strong affinity with nature.

Landscape paintings were such an important part of Sun's work that he called himself Shiwan Shanren (literally "man of a hundred thousand mountains"). His landscapes are distinctively individual, invigorated by the rhythms of majestic nature.

While rooted in the grand tradition of Chinese painting and calligraphy, Sun energized his brush style with personal nuances. His works were characterised by dark ink tones, grotesque composition and powerful brushstrokes that became even more vigorous in his later years.

The 38 works in the exhibition include landscapes, flowers, birds, shrimps and calligraphy couplets. A fully illustrated catalogue will be published.

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

For enquiries, call 2721 0116 or visit the Museum of Art's website at http://hk.art.museum.

End/Thursday, June 12, 2003

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