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Hong Kong Museum of Art presents Feng Zikai's cartoon works (with photos)

     More than 300 cartoon works created by Feng Zikai (1898-1975) will be on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art starting from tomorrow (May 25). Visitors can take this opportunity to contemplate the world of compassion through the works of the artist, who has been referred to as the "Father of Chinese Cartoons".

     Entitled "Imperishable Affection: The Art of Feng Zikai", this exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, and organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Zhejiang Provincial Museum in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

     The exhibition includes two major themes, "Creating a World of Compassion", which will be exhibited until October 7, and "Cultivating Life and Soul", which will run until July 25.

     The exhibition was officially opened today (May 24) by the Acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; the Director of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Mr Chen Hao; member of Feng Zikai's family Dr Ray Feng; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Miss Eve Tam.

     Ms Hui said that Feng Zikai was not only a pioneer in the art of cartoons in China, but also a renowned author and educator. During the 1920s and '30s in the past century, he kept on publishing cartoons, essays and plates, and dedicated himself to education and publication.

     "Feng has inspired several generations. Today his works are still well-received and his fans are spread throughout the Chinese communities around the world," Ms Hui said.

     Feng introduced the genre he called "manhua" (cartoons) into China, and "Zikai's Cartoons" became his iconic style. He thought that both the form and the content of cartoons must carry spontaneity and immediacy. Only when the humanistic touch is felt in a cartoon can it touch its audience, regardless of their cultural and education background.

     "Creating a World of Compassion", a major part of the exhibition, features more than 200 exemplary works by Feng provided by Feng's family and local collectors. The works on display cover a wide range of subjects and different stages of his life. Divided into different themes such as "A Childlike Heart", "Family Life" and "Painting Old Poems", this part provides an in-depth study of Feng's interesting expression techniques, warmth as a humanist, concern for humankind and more.

     Another part of the exhibition, "Cultivating Life and Soul", features 100 works (known as "leaves") selected from Feng's "Paintings on the Preservation of Life" series collected by the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, and shares with visitors the indiscriminate love depicted in the book.

     Feng was admitted to Zhejiang First Normal College at the age of 17, where he studied painting, music and Japanese under Li Shutong (1880-1942) (who later became a Buddhist monk known as Master Hongyi). They both maintained a close relationship as friends and as mentor and mentee throughout their lives. For his mentor's birthday, Feng began creating works in 1929 under the title "Paintings on the Preservation of Life". These works were made into a volume every 10 years, and compilation of this ongoing project continued even after Li's death. Feng completed six volumes with a total of 450 leaves over the decades, and this book became one of his most important works.

     The collection "Paintings on the Preservation of Life", which has been used as one of the theme titles of the exhibition, was conceived under the theme of developing a caring concern for every living thing under the sun. The core idea is to cultivate pity, benevolence and inner peace, which would in turn become "a caring heart"; this, Feng holds, is what we should have in everything we do with regard to those around us.

     To tie in with the exhibition, a series of lectures will be organised. Among them, a lecture to be held on May 26 from 2.30pm to 5.30pm at the museum's Lecture Hall will be given by Feng's daughter, Ms Feng Yiyin, and the Curator of the Feng Zikai Museum, Mr Wu Haoran, and chaired by the Advisor to the Hong Kong Literature Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Professor Lo Wai-luen (local writer Siu Sze). The lecture, in Putonghua, will be free of charge and 150 seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

     A special production of two animations and electronic books themed on Feng's cartoons by the Hong Kong Design Institute will also be on show at the exhibition. A fully illustrated catalogue is also available at the Gift Shop of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

     The Hong Kong Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm daily and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

     For further information, call 2721 0116 or visit the Hong Kong Museum of Art's website at

Ends/Thursday, May 24, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:17


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