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"Zen and Sensibility: Legend in King Hu's Drawing" exhibition showcases film master's precious paintings (with photos)

     Director King Hu's cinematic achievements are both multifold and globally recognised. In addition to leaving the legacy of his cinematic masterpieces, he had a rich artistic life. A prominent artist of watercolour paintings, sketches, calligraphy and cartoons, Hu reflected his insights and painting talents in the masterful aesthetics of image composition in his films.

     The exhibition "Zen and Sensibility: Legend in King Hu's Drawing" is being held from today (December 14) to March 10 in the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA). On display are Hu's manuscripts and a collection of about 300 of his precious drawings and paintings, which have been rarely seen in Hong Kong. The drawings include colourful and lifelike character designs for the unlaunched animation feature "Zhang Yu Boils the Sea", political cartoons, watercolour paintings, sketches, Chinese ink paintings, calligraphy and more for audiences to enjoy the many artistic achievements of the legendary film master.
     To commemorate Hu's 80th birthday, the HKFA is presenting a retrospective on director Hu with a screening programme entitled "Zen and Sense in King Hu's Films", the exhibition "Zen and Sensibility: Legend in King Hu's Drawing" and seminars for a comprehensive appreciation of Hu's aesthetic accomplishments in directing, acting, painting and the arts as a tribute to this very important figure in Chinese cinema.

     The opening ceremony for the retrospective was held today at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA. Attending guests included the Chief Manager (Film and Cultural Exchange) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), Ms Maggie Pang; King Hu's beloved actor, Mr Shih Chun, who was recently honoured with the
"Lifetime Achievement Award" at the 49th Golden Horse Awards; Mr Ng Ming-toi; King Hu's niece Ms Wu Wai-yiu; Professor Chung Ling; Board Member of the King Hu Foundation USA Ms Rosemary Danon; the executive director for the animation "Zhang Yu Boils the Sea", Mr Fung Yuk-sung; Mr Raymond Chow, who knew Hu for a long time; well-known cartoonist Zunzi, who curated the cartoon section in the exhibition; and various filmmakers.

     Director Hu (1932-1997) had many artistic talents. He was an art lover with a passion for drawing, calligraphy, literature, history and Peking opera. After his arrival in Hong Kong at the age 17, he worked in various occupations including proofreading at a printing company and set decoration, and participated in more than 36 films. In addition to creating his brilliant directorial works, he delivered a wealth of creative notes, manuscripts and precious drawings. The magnificent collection in the exhibition offers a rarely seen look at the painterly talents of the legendary film auteur.

     Shortly after immigrating to the US, Hu spent a lot of time sketching at Sea World in San Diego and was deeply intrigued by the interesting sea creatures. The selection of works on display includes 44 sketches of the character designs for the unlaunched animation feature "Zhang Yu Boils the Sea". Using watercolour, Hu portrayed the various marine creatures as vivid, colourful and creative lifelike characters.

     With critical observation, Hu drew for Ming Pao Daily in 1994 and 1995 a series of political cartoons. In clean lines and tidy composition, his works responded to current affairs in a humorous way. Curated by the well-known cartoonist Zunzi, the political cartoons and caricatures section of the exhibition displays an interesting installation with 27 statues of famous political figures including Bill Clinton, Deng Xiaoping, Nelson Mandela and others. A selection of 18 sets of Hu's lively comics drawn for Ming Pao Daily has been recaptured through digital editing for the exhibition.  

     Archival items such as Hu's manuscripts, sketches and illustrations for scenes in concept for "Raining in the Mountain" and "Legend of the Mountain", character designs and notes on sets are on display. Hu was an avid fan of painting and calligraphy. Exhibits not to be missed are his beautiful calligraphy as well his watercolour paintings and sketches. Featuring simple but explicit strokes, his quick-witted sketches, with many done at a fast-food shop setting, capture the presence of people and tell the story of a unique individual.
     The screening programme in the retrospective, "Zen and Sense in King Hu's Films", is being held from today to March 17. It is screening all of Hu's 15 directorial films including his independent directorial debut "Sons of Good Earth"; "A Touch of Zen", which was awarded the Technical Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival; the classic "Dragon Inn"; his first costumed action genre film, "Come Drink with Me"; "Raining in the Mountain" and "Legend of the Mountain", both filmed in Korea; "All the King's Men", his great work from the 1980s; and "The Juvenizer", his only contemporary film. Films showcasing Hu's acting talents and stars such as Lin Dai, Loh Ti and Grace Chang include "The Long Lane", "Humiliation for Sale", "The Deformed", "The Kingdom and the Beauty", "The Swallow Thief", "Cha Cha Girl" and others.
     To supplement the screenings and exhibition, three seminars entitled "Essence of King Hu's Drawings" (December 16), "The Aesthetics of King Hu's Costumes and Sets" (January 13) and "King Hu's Acting" (January 19) will be held to foster an appreciation of King Hu's aesthetic and artistic talents from different angles.

     Great support from the King Hu Foundation USA and the Chinese Taipei Film Archive in loaning precious archival items, drawings, calligraphy and film copies as well as the contributions of many filmmakers including Sha Yung-fong, Shih Chun, Cheng Pei-pei and others have contributed to the success of the retrospective. Director Tsui Hark has specially commemorated the programme with his Chinese calligraphy.

     Admission is free for the "Zen and Sensibility: Legend in King Hu's Drawing" exhibition. Tickets priced at $40 for the screenings are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made at 2111 5999 or on the Internet at

     Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 66", distributed at all performance venues of the LCSD. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the website at

Ends/Friday, December 14, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:25


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