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Exhibition of precious Chinese paintings and calligraphy on display at Hong Kong Museum of Art (with photos)

     Thirty-eight precious paintings from the Song to Ming periods selected from the collection of the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts will be on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow (November 30) to January 9. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity for visitors to experience the art of Chinese painting during this period, as well the chance to learn more about Japanese views of ancient Chinese culture and Sino-Japanese relations over the past millennium.

     Entitled "Chinese Painting and Calligraphy of Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties from the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts", this exhibition features works that have been designated as Important Cultural Property by the Government of Japan, including "Fu Sheng Expounding the Classic", attributed to Wang Wei (701-761); "Court Lady Ming Fei Leaving the Country" by Gong Suran (active in the early 12th century) of the Jin dynasty; and "Illustration of the Panguxu" by Dong Qichang (1555-1636) of the Ming dynasty. Other masterpieces on display include "Landscape with Pavilions" by Yan Wengui (active in the late 10th to early 11th century) of the Northern Song dynasty; "Bright Clouds around Distant Peaks" by Mi Youren (1074-1151) of the Southern Song dynasty; "Fleet Steed" by Gong Kai (1222Vca1307) and "Orchid" by Zheng Sixiao (1239V1316) of the Yuan dynasty; and "Illustration of the Pipaxing" by Wen Jia (1501V1583) of the Ming dynasty.

     Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and co-presented by the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition is organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

     An opening ceremony for the exhibition was held today (November 29). Officiating guests included the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; Director of the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Mr Masahiro Shino; Chairman of the Art Museum Advisory Panel, Mr Vincent Lo; and Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Miss Eve Tam.

     China and Japan have maintained close contact and frequent cultural exchange for more than 2,000 years, and cultural relations reached their golden age during the Sui and Tang dynasties. Influenced by pre-eminent sinologists Uzan Nagao and Konan Naito in the early 20th century, a number of Japanese collectors dedicated themselves to the collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy and built up a number of impressive collections in the Kansai area. Fusajiro Abe was one of the most prominent collectors.

     Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mrs Fung said, "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. With its 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.

     "We are honoured to have the opportunity to showcase, for the first time in Hong Kong, some of the world's most precious artworks of Chinese painting and calligraphy created during the period between the Song and Ming dynasties."

     Mrs Fung also noted that the Government of the HKSAR is committed to promoting cultural exchange through collaboration with its overseas counterparts. In January this year, the Hong Kong Museum of Art co-organised with the Kyoto National Museum of Japan the "Modern Chinese Painting and Japan" exhibition, taking to Kyoto its collection of Lingnan paintings which offer an insight into the development of Chinese art in contemporary times. It is expected that further collaboration with cultural institutions in Japan will take place to foster the promotion of Chinese art.

     During the Sui and Tang dynasties "kent?shi" (Japanese missions) were sent to China, laying the foundation for Japanese cultural development in the Nara and Heian periods. During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, contemporary with the Southern Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties of China, the samurai class rose to power and a "bakufu" (or "shogun") administrative system was established. Although communications between the two countries were periodically interrupted, it did not hinder Japan from acquiring the cultural essence of China, from the religious concepts of Confucianism and Buddhism to the cultural arts of tea drinking, calligraphy and painting, architecture, artisanal craftsmanship and more. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, in spite of the "sakoku" (seclusion) policy introduced under the bakufu system, commercial activities and exchanges between the countries never entirely ceased. In the late Ming and early Qing periods many Confucian followers, eminent monks and loyalists of the Ming moved to Japan, exerting an influence on the development of modern Japanese scholarship and the arts. In the late 19th century, after the Meiji Restoration, some Chinese intellectuals went to Japan to study, taking the Japanese experience of Westernisation back to China and influencing the country's modern political and cultural reforms.

     Japanese cities such as Nagasaki, Osaka and Kyoto in the Kansai area have a long history of close ties with China and a great passion for Chinese art and culture. In the early 20th century, Japanese collectors in the Kansai area of Japan including Fusajiro Abe, Teijiro Yamamoto, Koshichi Kurokawa, Zensuke Fujii and Kanichi Sumitomo contributed to the creation of impressive private and public collections on ancient Chinese painting and calligraphy.

     Since his thirties Fusajiro Abe was dedicated to collecting art. During the late Qing dynasty and early years of the Republic of China, a huge number of Chinese cultural relics were either destroyed or scattered overseas due to social unrest. Abe realised, from his intensive travelling throughout Europe and America studying art museums in the West, the importance of collecting and preserving East Asian arts and started to collect ancient painting and calligraphy. His collection comprised precious works from the imperial collection, nobles and high-ranking officials of the Qing dynasty, including artworks of the Tang, Five Dynasties, Song as well as literati paintings of the Yuan, Ming and Qing. These authentic works continue to inspire the people of Japan in learning anew about Chinese painting and calligraphy. His family donated his entire collection to the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts after he passed away. The works on display at the exhibition are mostly from Abe's collection.

     To tie in with the exhibition, a series of academic lectures will be organised during the exhibition period. Speakers will include Takayuki Yumino of the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Professor Masaaki Itakura of the University of Tokyo, Maromitsu Tsukamoto of the Tokyo National Museum, Professor Shih Shou-chien of Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Chen Yun-ru of the Palace Museum in Taipei and Dr Clarissa von Spee of the British Museum. The lectures, in Japanese with Cantonese interpretation, Putonghua and English respectively, will be free of charge and 140 seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

     The Hong Kong Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and from 10am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The museum will close at 5pm on Christmas Eve. 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, November 29, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:31


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