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Works by Huang Yongyu feature at Museum of Art

About 80 recent works by internationally acclaimed master Huang Yongyu will be displayed at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow (December 24) to March 28, 2005.

The exhibition, "Huang Yongyu at 80: An Art Exhibition", featuring ink paintings, sculptures and ceramics works, began its tour in Beijing earlier this year and Hong Kong will be the final stop.

The exhibition was officially opened today (December 23). Officiating guests included the Secretary for Justice, Ms Elsie Leung, the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong Sean-yee, and Huang Yongyu.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ms Leung paid tribune to Huang as a dynamic artist, who had been very active in the pursuit of artistic creation even at the age of 80.

"It is not mere a compliment to describe Huang as a versatile artist. He can always surprise us," Ms Leung said. "Huang has untiringly devoted himself to the study and exploration of artistic creation and has pioneered new techniques which are not bound by one style. For a long time in his early career in artistic creation, he was best known for woodblock prints.

"Not until the 1960s, did he turn to ink painting and begin to apply bright and luxuriant colours instead of black and white lines in his works.

"Other than painting, Huang is also highly praised for his literary works. His writings, wit, amusing, sentimental and sensitively observed, complement with his paintings, giving us a better understanding of his world of art," Ms Leung said.

Born in 1924, Huang Yongyu left his hometown Fenghuang and studied in the Jimei Middle School in Xiamen, Fujian province, at the age of 13 and started practising woodcut by the book "How to Learn Woodcut" written by Zheng Yefu (1909-1974). He was an apprentice in the Dehua Ceramic Workshop when he was making a living in Quanzhou (Fujian province) and Shangrao (Jiangxi province). In 1942, he taught in the Changle Peiqing Middle School, Fujian, and made woodcut prints. His works appeared one after the other in various publications.

Huang joined the National Woodcut Society of China in Shanghai in 1943. There he was engaged in woodcut and literary work, producing woodcut pamphlets to protest against famine and civil war and on various other subjects.

In 1948, Huang, 24, together with his wife Zhang Meixi, moved from Shanghai to Taiwan and then to Hong Kong. During his stay in the British colony, Huang worked with "Ta Kung Pao" and "New Evening News" and became acquainted with many men of letters and progressive Leftists. Among them were cartoonist Liao Bingxiong (b.1915), writers Lou Shiyi (1905-2001), Yan Qingshu and Luo Fu (b.1921, originally known as Luo Chengxun). Huang was also a film director, having written and directed "The Story of the Ocean". He designed the characters and wrote the screenplay. In 1948, the Fung Ping Shan Library of the University of Hong Kong mounted the first solo exhibition by Huang. His works at that time carried heavy overtones of social criticism and were voices of injustice and of the oppressed.

In 1953, with the encouragement of his uncle Shen Congwen (1902-1988), Huang, together with his wife, moved from Hong Kong to Beijing, where he taught at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. In the years that followed, he produced a large number of works in a variety of forms and style and on diverse subjects, using different artistic mediums. His most well-known work is the illustrations for "Ashima" created in 1956.

During the Cultural Revolution that swept across China from 1966 to 1976, his frank and outspoken personality resulted in many of his works being classified as "monsters and demons", meaning that they were enemies of the proletariat. In 1973, he completed an ink painting "The Owl" which depicted an owl with one eye open and the other closed. In the following year, "The Owl" was showcased by the Central Cultural Revolution Culture Group in the Chinese Museum of Art and the People's Great Hall.

After the Cultural Revolution, a colourful world emerged in his paintings. It was a land of serenity that Huang wanted to invite people to explore and meet his beloved lotuses.

The paintings on lotus included in this exhibition display fully Huang's achievements in painting. His works range from the delicate and colourful "gongbi" paintings to the freestyle brushwork paintings. One cannot help but marvel at the depth of his knowledge in Chinese painting and his impeccable skills in using the brush and ink and the mediums of paper and silk. But what is the most touching about Huang's art are the emotions embedded in his paintings.

In support of the exhibition, a video programme featuring Huang's art and life will be featured. In addition, a fully illustrated catalogue will be published and 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 opens from 10am to 6pm daily. 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 enquiries, call 2721 0116 or visit the Museum of Art's website at .

Ends/Thursday, December 23, 2004
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