With his unwavering pursuit of excellence in painting, Professor Wan Qingli has made a significant contribution to the research of Chinese fine art. In addition, Professor Wan possesses a substantial collection of paintings, calligraphy, seals and letters by pivotal artists of the 20th century, all priceless gifts from his teachers and friends since his youth in the 1970s. Growing up under exceptional circumstances in China, he went through the years of anguish.
China’s “Reform and Opening Up” program enabled him to leave for study abroad in 1984, and he was later offered a post as professor of art history at The University of Hong Kong. The works from his teachers and friends are memories of their acquaintance and lifelong friendship. Professor Wan once wrote, “Collecting can still be unrelated to money; it is a testament of affection and affinity.”
This exhibition showcases more than 140 Chinese paintings, calligraphy, seals and handwritten letters from 54 artists and scholars, each associated with abiding memories from Professor Wan’s life journey. The exhibits are divided into five chronological sections: (1) “Little Friend of the Ox-Shed” (1963-1973) – Wan was imprisoned in a makeshift prison at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing known as “the ox-shed”, where he met Li Kuchan, Li Keran, Guo Weiqu, Wu Zuoren and Huang Yongyu. (2) “Returning from Farm Labour, Days at the Beijing Fine Art Academy” (1973-1979) – Wan returned to the capital and entered Beijing Fine Art Academy after having been sent to perform farm labour during the “Down to the Countryside Movement’. Works from Wan’s seniors and colleagues like Cui Zifan, Yin Shoushi, Pan Jiezi, Lou Shibai, Zhou Sicong, Zhang Renzhi and Shi Qi are included in this section. (3) “Back to the Central Academy of Fine Arts” (1979-1984) – Wan was accepted as a student of Lu Yanshao, then re-enrolled at the CAFA in 1979. Wan and Lu corresponded frequently. The letters and landscape paintings by Lu record Wan’s enthusiasm in pursuing art. This period also includes works by Lin Sanzhi, Fei Xinwo who worked in the Jiangsu Traditional Chinese Painting Institute, as well as Fang Zengxian and Lu Kunfeng from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. (4) “A Nationalist with an Elitist Overseas Doctorate” (1984-1989) – Handwritten letters between Wan and his teachers during his study sojourn in America illustrate the exchange of noble inspiration and true affection between them. (5) “A Retainer at Universities in Hong Kong” (1989-2011) – Wan taught at the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Baptist University. Works by his friends including Qi Gong, Yang Renkai, Huang Junshi, Hu Yongkai, Lu Fusheng and Li Geng annotate Professor Wan’s life of teaching in Hong Kong. Moreover, exhibits also include some of the seals engraved by Professor Wan’s friends including Han Tianheng, Wu Zijian, Wang Yong and Zhang Zining.
This exhibition aims to shed light on the development of art styles in the 20th century China. These works of art and written correspondence between Wan and leading artists of the period are no longer merely personal possessions, but a visual record of history.
About the exhibition
Duration: 13 Dec 2013 – 23 Apr 2014
Venue: Chinese Fine Art Gallery, Hong Kong Museum of Art-Special Exhibition Gallery
Tickets: $20/10/10/5 (No free admission on Wednesdays and for Museum Weekly Pass holders to this exhibition)
Opening Hours: 10:00-20:00 (Closed on Thursdays;Closed at 5:00pm on Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve;Closed on the first two days of Chinese New Year)
Add: 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Courtesy of the artist and Leisure and Cultural Services Deparment. All Rights Reserved. For further information please visit hk.art.museum.