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Heritage Museum shows Chinese paintings by Lam Wu Fui

About 30 Chinese paintings by Lam Wu Fui, who is adept at painting cranes set against snow-draped forests, will go on display from tomorrow (October 21) until April 7, 2008, at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

"The Animated Spirit - The Art of Lam Wu Fui" is the second exhibition of the "Chao Shao-an Student Exhibition Series" launched by the Heritage Museum, aiming to introduce the ways in which the Lingnan School features and innovations made by individual artists.

The exhibition was opened today (October 20) by the Assistant Director (Heritage and Museums) of Leisure and Cultural Services, Dr Louis Ng Chi-wah, Mr Lam Wu Fui, the Museum Advisers to Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Professor Kao Mayching and Mr Leo KK Wong.

Lam Wu Fui was born in 1945. In his early years, he studied Western painting in an art academy in Hong Kong, and also learned Chinese landscape painting with Liang Boyu. In the 1960s, he studied under Professor Chao Shao-an, master of Lingnan School. With a good command in the basic skills, he worked hard and explored various subjects and techniques to form his personal style, and now is well known for his wide repertoire of bird, animal and fish paintings. He held his first solo exhibition in 1978.

His bird subjects include crane, egret, pheasant, eagle, wild goose, mallard, rooster and peacock. Most unique are his paintings of airy cranes dancing in snow or flying across a wood. The colour scheme is often orchestrated in black and white, or set in one of the seasons, which exudes a romantic mood. The sky and background are built up with ink washes for atmospheric effects, indicating moonlight, wind, rain, snow or the season. This is in line with his teacher Chao and other Lingnan masters who loved to enhance the atmosphere with the sunset or moonlight. But Lam frees the crane from the usual auspicious symbol of longevity under the pine tree, and gives his paintings a new breadth by opening up the setting to an expense of wood in a snowy country. The cranes are grouped in pairs of mirror images, groups treading in snow or a few prancing in the air to form rhythm across the picture. Egrets, by contrast, are birds found in Hong Kong, and Lam often shows them sitting on tree top under moonlight with a dark background setting off their white feathers.

Lam is also accomplished in painting fish of many varieties. As early as in the 1980s he had published two books as guides to paint gold fish, carps, sea fish and tropical fish using line, ink and colour. This reflects that Lam has made close observation of each variety. The arowana, a unique species growing in Southeast Asia, serves as a new subject. The viewer will be intrigued to look at fish from the side of an aquarium, or indeed inside the water with the fish. This viewpoint is a departure from the usual viewing from the top.

Lam's animal paintings include wild animals such as lions, tiger, panthers and monkeys, and domestic animals like cats, dogs, pigs and rabbits. He captures the physical form and also the attitude and mood. Domestic animals are tame and lovable. Monkeys are grouped to express the closeness and tenderness of family members picking fleas from each other. Preying animals are depicted with a strong musculature which implies their strength and speed. Lam accomplishes these with a good drawing ability and fine control of the ink and brush techniques, which provide him with a wide vocabulary for his work. Sometimes fine details of the fur of monkeys and cats are rendered with dry brushes. At other times, a large brush loaded with ink is used to make quick strokes, giving form and mass to felines and monkeys. The backgrounds are often composed of grass or branches which are scantily drawn in the dry brush technique, providing details of settings for the creatures depicted. On the other hand, ink washes are most instrumental in setting the mood.

To tie-in with the exhibition, a demonstration entitled "Old and New - Ink Painting" will be held on November 7 and December 5 at 3pm at the museum's Seminar Room. Lam will demonstrate Chinese ink painting and also share his journey on art creation. Conducted in Cantonese, admission to this activity is free and 50 seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis. For details and reservation of seats, please contact the Education Team of the museum on 2180 8260.

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, October 20, 2007
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