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Heritage Museum shows exotic Chinese paintings by Chiu Sai-kwong

About 40 Chinese paintings by Chiu Sai-kwong, representing his exotic spirit, will go on display from tomorrow (April 27) until November 17 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

'The Exotic Spirit -- The Art of Chui Sai-kwong' is the third exhibition of the 'Chao Shao-an's Student Exhibition Series' launched by the Heritage Museum in 2007. The exhibition series aims to introduce the distinctive features of Lingnan School and the innovations made by individual artists of the school.

The exhibition was opened today (April 26) by the Assistant Director (Heritage and Museums) of Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Dr Louis Ng, Mr Chiu Ling-bun, the Museum Advisers to Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Professor Mayching Kao and Mr Leo Wong, and the Chief Curator of Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Ms Belinda Wong.

Chiu Sai-kwong (1916-2007) was known for his painting of novel subjects, in particular flora and fauna from exotic lands. They included the protea, the water hyacinth, the cactus, and the lady's slippers, a tropical orchid with very graceful form. Birds like the toucan, Muscovy duck and bird of paradise are represented by their colourful plumage. His widened repertoire also covers tropical orchids and coral fish in their many varieties. In depicting these objects true to their details, he had kept in line with the Lingnan emphasis of close observation of nature on the one hand, and had made use of new information technology to survey the earth from tropical lands to the Arctic region.

Chiu's works show characteristics of the Lingnan School of painting, in both style and spirit. The moonlit setting is a favourite backdrop as in 'No Escape for Villains' and 'A Watchful Eye on the Villains'. He knew his teacher's works well, and made reference to them through the close imitation as shown in 'Peacock'. His patriotism can be found in 'Consequences of War'. His animals and birds of prey are often depicted with human qualities to signify satire, anti-war messages, or the warmth of family and unity of nature. Chiu was true to the Lingnan spirit of integrating traditional elements with innovations. His use of colour was bold and daring, even in his later years. He used complementary colours on the same painting, such as red and green, in their undiluted strength. His compositions are unique and striking, as can be found in the 'Ambush' and the 'Motherly Love' which depict animals from a high angle or a low viewpoint to close-up on their expressions or to heighten the atmosphere.

The works featured in the exhibition cover Chiu's early career to the very last year of his artistic creation, tracing the development from apprenticeship of the Lingnan School to the establishment of a personal style. This change is actually in line with the requirement Professor Chao imposed on his students that every art pursuer should search for their own individual character.

Just as Chao Shao-an, Chiu also devoted his whole life to creativity and education. He established Ling Fung Studio to paint and teach. The Hong Kong Ling Fung Art Association was set up in 1981 to foster exchange and exhibition. He was active to help Chao to organise the Today's Chinese Art Association, and was the chairman for the first term. He assisted in the publishing and editing for the 'A Study of Chinese Paintings' for a number of years and also set up other art societies. He pioneered visits and exchanges with artists on the mainland and took up the social responsibility in organising charity sales when there were natural disasters or to promote education in the poorer areas of the Mainland.

To tie-in with the exhibition, a demonstration entitled 'Passing on the Legacy -- Ink Painting' will be held on June 14 at 3pm at the museum's Seminar Room. Two ink-painting artists, Chiu Ling-bun and Chung Yan, will demonstrate Chinese ink painting and share some interesting anecdotes about Chiu Sai-kwong. Conducted in Cantonese, admission to this activity is free and 50 seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis. For details, please call 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 full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

Car parking is available at the Heritage Museum. Those who prefer to use public transport may take the MTR 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, April 26, 2008
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