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Exhibition commemorates master painter Chao Shao-an

About 120 paintings selected from the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Guangzhou Museum of Art will be showcased at the Heritage Museum from tomorrow (August 28) to January 2, 2006, to commemorate the 100th birthday of Chao Shao-an, the master of Chinese painting.

The exhibition, "Essence of Purity – Exhibition to Commemorate the 100th Birthday of Chao Shao-an", features Chao's representative works which date from the 1930s to the 1990s covering a rich variety of subject matters, such as flower and birds, grasses and insects, landscapes and animals. Other exhibits include works by Chao on loan from private collections, some of which have never been put on show. Highlights also include Chao's two large-scaled panelled works – "Banana Trees" and "Pine Tree". To depict Chao's colourful creative world more vividly, the exhibition also features his photographs, original poetry manuscripts and sketches.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition today (August 27), the Deputy Director of Leisure and Cultural Services (Culture), Mr Chung Ling-hoi, said this year was the centenary of Professor Chao's birthday, which the Heritage Museum, in conjunction with the Guangzhou Museum of Art, was celebrating with this travelling exhibition. After satisfactorily running in Guangzhou, the exhibition now moves to Hong Kong and is expected to become a prominent local art event.

"Professor Chao Shao-an ranks among the leading masters of 20th century Chinese painting. His works and artistic theories consolidated the Lingnan School's historical significance, and are pivotal to the developments and transformations of Chinese painting, especially in the area of Flower and Bird paintings," Mr Chung said.

Chao Shao-an (1905–1998) began studying painting with Gao Qifeng (1889-1933) when he was 16, and inherited the legacies of the three pioneers of the modernisation of Chinese painting, Gao Jianfu (1879-1951), Gao Qifeng and Chen Shuren (1883-1948). Like these three masters, he believed in life studies and observing and learning from Nature, establishing his own unique style and took life as it is lived and Nature as his subjects. Chao was an accomplished artist before he was 30, and founded the Lingnan Studio in Guangzhou with his fellow student Huang Shaoqiang (1901-1942), aiming to teach and promote the Lingnan School.

"To learn from Nature but be inspired by inner sensibility" is a principle that Chao firmly believed. During the war years in the early 1940s, he travelled extensively in Southwestern China, and visited places such as Guilin, Yangshuo, Sichuan, Mount Emei and the Three Gorges. He sketched profusely during his travels, and had exhibited in various Southwestern cities. The magnificence of the landscape widened his vision.

When he settled in Hong Kong in 1948, he exhibited in places as diverse as Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and America. His rich experiences produced impressive works such as the panels "Banana Trees", "Pine Tree" and the "Resting Buffaloes", and paintings such as "Moonlight Over the Pond", "The White Peacock", "Sunflower" and "Tiger". This period is in fact the pinnacle of his career.

Apart from the grand, large-scale works, his small paintings and album pages with subjects such as flowers and birds, cicadas and insects demonstrated even more profoundly his outstanding painting techniques and accomplishments. His free, liberated brush strokes, inventive compositions, use of vibrant colours and minimal brushworks all attest to a spirited and exceptional artistic realm.

Located at 1 Man Lam Road in Sha Tin, the Heritage Museum opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10, with a half-price concession for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and full-time students. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

A free shuttle bus operates between the Sha Tin KCR Station and the Heritage Museum from 1pm to 6pm on Saturdays and from 1pm to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Car parking is available at the Heritage Museum. Those who prefer to make use of public transport may take the KCR to the Che Kung Temple Station, which is within five minutes' walk of the Museum.

For enquiries, call 2180 8188. For details of the exhibition, visit the Heritage Museum's website at .

Ends/Saturday, August 27, 2005
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