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Heritage Museum to showcase Chinese paintings by Henry Wo Yue-kee

More than 40 Chinese paintings by renowned painter Henry Wo Yue-kee over the past five decades and covering subjects of flowers and plants, birds, animals, as well as landscapes, will go on display tomorrow (April 1).

The exhibition, "The Poetic Spirit – The Art of Henry Wo Yue-kee", will run at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum until September 24.

It is the prelude to the "Chao Shao-an Student Exhibition Series" newly launched by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum which aims to introduce the ways in which features of the Lingnan School - of which Wo was a member - are carried on in the works of students of Chao Shao-an, a great master in Chinese painting, and how innovations are made by individual artists.

The exhibition was opened today (March 31) by the Assistant Director (Heritage and Museums) of Leisure and Cultural Services (LCSD), Dr Louis Ng Chi-wah, Mr Henry Wo, LCSD Museum Advisers, Professor Kao Mayching and Dr Leo KK Wong, and the Chief Curator of the Heritage Museum, Ms Belinda Wong Sau-lan.

Henry Wo, born in 1927, is a native of Dongguan, Guangdong province. In 1947, he studied painting in the International Art School in Hong Kong in both Western and Chinese style. Then he studied with Chao Shao-an from 1949. He started his teaching career in 1955 and held his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Ever since, he had held many exhibitions of his works in Hong Kong and overseas. In 1975, he emigrated to the United States, where he focused on painting and teaching. Working in a studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Washington DC, he painted and made exchanges with other artists and visitors, thus carrying out the aims of his teacher and of the Today's Art Association in the promotion of ink painting overseas.

Wo studied with Chao for more than 10 years. Chao taught his students comprehensively by first introducing the basic approach: studying the works of the teacher and painting in that style - beginning with the album leaves, then the horizontal, and later the vertical format. In terms of subject, they learned to paint from simple ones to the complicated ones, the last being tiger and the peacock. During lessons, Chao often painted from life, or chose scenes from pictures and reworked the important parts. He encouraged students to paint together, where he gave guidance on the side, added the final finishes and assessed students' works.

Chao was very friendly with artists, and extended his helpfulness to them in many ways. He cared for his students, and often helped them by waiving the tuition fee. When students held their own exhibition, Chao would give detailed guidance. When Wo had his first solo exhibition, a famous artist was also trying to secure the same venue for an exhibition. Chao helped Wo secure the venue.

Wo thought that Chao's art was expressed in quick brushstrokes and brief compositions. It looked simple and easy to learn, but it was very difficult to reach excellence. Students could imitate the compositions, but elements like brushstrokes, composition and use of colour required much practice. Chao requested his students to sketch from nature and from life in order to establish their own style. Chao devoted his life to teaching and promoting his art. As a result, there are many students spreading the style around the world.

In the spirit of Chao, Wo closely observed nature and sketched wherever he went. He loves nature, and considers his art a praise or salute to his environment. His sketches and paintings recorded scenes from Hong Kong, his native town Dongguan, picturesque settings of towns along the canals of Eastern China, and forests and coastlines of the United States. He extends his careful and loving observation to flowers, plants, birds and animals which are represented in his works.

Wo's favourite subject is the lotus and he made every effort to study them. While living in the States, he visited the botanical gardens every year to sketch and paint them on-site. Wo excels in depicting the lotus in different weather and seasons with a highly poetic mood. He paints the young buds in early summer, blossoms withstanding the rain and wind, and the lotus withering in the frost. He frequently sets his works under the moon, with a sense of serene and gentle atmosphere. Other scenes are set in morning mist, in the sunset or in different seasons. This sense of poetry is created by the use of colour, light and ink washes.

Wo develops his own technique of overlaying washes on fibrous paper, for the effects of dampness and softness. To the Western eye, this echoes with certain techniques of watercolour, and no doubt serves as a bridge for the East and West in artistic creation and appreciation.

Located at 1 Man Lam Road, 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.

Car parking is available at the Heritage Museum. Those who prefer to use public transport may take the KCR Ma On Shan line 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, March 31, 2007
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