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Exhibition tracing history of China propaganda posters starts tomorrow

Propaganda posters in China have recorded history and changes in culture and epochs. An exhibition, "From New Year Prints to Propaganda Posters: Selections from the China Archives of Publications", which outlines the development of propaganda posters in China, will be held from tomorrow (March 12) until June 16 at the Hong Kong Museum of History.

The exhibition was opened today (March 11) by the Director General of the Publicity, Culture and Sports Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Ms Zhang Yan-jun, the Assistant Director (Heritage and Museums) of Leisure and Cultural Services, Dr Louis Ng Chi-wah, the Curator of the China Archives of Publications, Mr Ai Li-min, the Director of the Peace Culture Exchange Centre, Ms Wang Yu-tao, and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Ms Esa Leung Kit-ling.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Louis Ng Chi-wa said,“The propaganda posters testify to the historical issues of different times and show the social affairs of each period. The styles of the posters are unique and full of artistic appeal. Their history and value as collector's items are highly recognised by people."

Established in 1950, the China Archives of Publications is the sole institution in China specialising in the acquisition, collection and management of publications distributed since the founding of the People's Republic of China. Its depository includes a collection of some 50,000 propaganda posters in 20,000 categories published after the founding of the People's Republic of China. This exhibition is the first of its kind ever staged by the Archives in Hong Kong.

The 61 exhibits on display include 47 propaganda posters selected from the best of the Archives' collection, while 14 New Year prints and calendar posters are from local museums.

The history of Chinese propaganda posters can be traced back to woodblock New Year prints depicting current affairs in the early 20th century. They illustrate how the Chinese withstood foreign invasions and promoted political and social reforms. They were highly political and socially oriented from the beginning. Prior to 1949, the main avenues for artistic expression for Chinese propaganda posters were the "New Year print of current affairs" and "New Year print of reformation" based on folk art New Year paintings, calendar posters painted with charcoal and watercolour techniques, as well as the predominantly woodblock printed posters during the Sino-Japanese War.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the new styles of New Year prints that enjoyed the broadest popularity among the masses were the first to receive government support. Propaganda posters of the former Soviet Union also profoundly influenced the creative output of China's propaganda posters in 1950s. In particular, there was a transition from the comparatively plain and brightly coloured propaganda poster style of the Yan'an period, to one using a backdrop of Western painting, with a composition rich in detail and emphasising artistic appeal. From the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1960s, artists who normally specialised in different painting styles such as oil painting and Chinese brushwork painting were moving over in droves to creating propaganda posters. Consequently, a huge collection of excellent works appeared.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the creative output of Chinese propaganda posters was based on the social development and the state policy of the country at that time. Propaganda posters played an important role in social life by directly communicating with the masses, educating and advancing their awareness of certain issues. The main themes included rural life, the image of women, industrialisation and national reconstruction, leisure, recreation and holiday festivities, defending the country, revolutionary history, and portraits of political leaders.

The Museum of History is located at 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It 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 for the "From New Year Prints to Propaganda Posters: Selections from the China Archives of Publications" exhibition is free.

For details, please visit the Museum of History's website at or call 2724 9042.

Ends/Tuesday, March 11, 2008

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