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Museum of Art exhibition "The Four Gentlemen: A Selection of Flower Paintings from the Hong Kong Museum of Art Collection" opens (with photos)

     An exhibition entitled "The Four Gentlemen: A Selection of Flower Paintings from the Hong Kong Museum of Art Collection" opened today (December 5) at the Chinese Fine Art Gallery of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The exhibited paintings are selected from the museum's collection over 70 pieces of works by calligraphers and painters from the Ming dynasty to modern period, and reveal the charm of the so-called "Four Gentlemen".

     Plum blossoms, orchids, chrysanthemums and bamboo each have their own characteristics and are traditionally known by the analogy "The Four Gentlemen". They are widely employed by calligraphers and painters as themes in their paintings and poems. The exhibition has five categories, namely "The Four Gentlemen", "Unyielding Loyalty: Plum Blossom", "Ethereal Elegance: Orchid", "Lofty Reclusion: Chrysanthemum" and "Noble Humility: Bamboo", and showcases artworks by famous calligraphers and painters including Xu Wei of the Ming dynasty, Zheng Xie of the Qing dynasty, and Wu Changshuo and Zhang Daqian of the modern period.

     The analogy of "The Four Gentlemen" originated in the reign of Wanli during the Ming dynasty, when the literati painter Chen Jiru inscribed the phrase in an artist's manual for painting plum blossoms, bamboo, orchids and chrysanthemums. Famous calligraphers, painters and literati such as Tao Yuanming and Su Shi always employed the theme of "The Four Gentlemen" in their paintings and poems so as to glorify and pursue the noble character and sentiments of a gentleman. During Chinese New Year, "The Four Gentlemen" were commonly used in traditional folk culture as a way of sending blessings.

     According to the tradition, plum trees in full bloom during a frosty winter symbolise the steadfast and unyielding qualities of a junzi - a gentleman or nobleman. The orchid, growing in serene valleys with its unique aroma symbolises a gracious character in defiance of the mundane. The chrysanthemum, flowering in autumn and withstanding frost speaks of fortitude and integrity, while the upright bamboo reaching to the clouds represents noble humility. Appreciating and acquiring the characteristics of "The Four Gentlemen" could cleanse one's mind and add gracefulness to one's personality.

     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 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 details of the exhibition, please visit the Hong Kong Museum of Art's website at or call 2721 0116.

Ends/Friday, December 5, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:05


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