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2012.11.29   Speech by the Director of the Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung, at the Opening Ceremony of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy of Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties from the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts

Mr Shino, Mr Lo, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the opening ceremony of the exhibition of "Chinese Painting and Calligraphy of Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties from the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts".

Japanese cities in the Kansai area are no stranger to Hong Kong people. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong people travelled to Osaka and Kyoto every year for their beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage. Indeed, these cities have a long history of cultural exchange with China as well as a great passion for Chinese art and culture. Influenced by pre-eminent sinologists Uzan Nagao and Konan Naito in the early 20th century, Japanese collectors including Fusajiro Abe have dedicated themselves to the collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy and built up the many impressive collections that we now see in the Kansai area.

I understand that the core of the Chinese painting and calligraphy collection in the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts came from an important donation by the Abe Family. Since the 1920s, Fusajiro Abe had been actively acquiring Chinese painting and calligraphy and in 1943, his family observed his last wish and donated his collection to the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts. Among the donated items are works designated as "Important Cultural Properties" by the Japanese government, such as Fu Sheng expounding the classic attributed to Wang Wei, Court Lady Ming leaving the country by Gong Suran; and Illustration of the Panguxu by Dong Qichang, as well as other famous artworks of the Song and Yuan dynasties, including the classic literati painting Orchid by Zheng Sixiao. With this rich collection, the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts plays an important and unique role in the preservation and study of Chinese painting and calligraphy.

The Hong Kong Museum of Art is honoured to have the opportunity to showcase, for the first time, some of the world's most precious artwork in Chinese painting and calligraphy to the Hong Kong audience. This exhibition could not have materialized without the ardent support of the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts in loaning its valuable collection to us. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Museum and Mr Shino for making this exhibition happen. Indeed, the Government of the HKSAR is committed to promoting cultural exchange through collaboration with its overseas counterparts. In January this year, we co-organised with the Kyoto National Museum of Japan the "Modern Chinese Painting and Japan" exhibition in Kyoto. The exhibition, featuring our museum's collection of Lingnan paintings, offered an insight into the development of arts in contemporary times. We look forward to further collaboration with cultural institutions in Japan so as to foster the promotion of Chinese art.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Friends of the Hong Kong Museum of Art for its generous sponsorship of the academic lecture series relating to the exhibition. Our heartfelt thanks also go to Mr Takayuki Yumino of the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Prof Masaaki Itakura of the University of Tokyo, Mr Maromitsu Tsukamoto of the Tokyo National Museum, Prof Shih Shou-chien of Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Dr Chen Yun-ru of the Palace Museum in Taipei and Dr Clarissa von Spee of the British Museum for travelling a long way to Hong Kong to join us on for this special occasion. Lastly, may I wish the exhibition a huge success. Thank you.

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