Prelude to Brush & Ink - Chao Shao-an's Sketches & Paintings
Thematic Gallery (4),
Hong Kong Heritage Museum
24 October 2001 - 25 November 2002
 
Professor Chao Shao-an (1905-1998) was one of the most outstanding masters of the Lingnan School of Painting. Influenced by his teacher Gao Qifeng (1889-1933) and the ideas of Gao Jianfu (1879-1951) on the "Modernisation of Chinese Painting", he was committed to combining traditional painting techniques with a careful observation of nature. As a result, he developed a unique artistic style that was characterised by expressive brushwork, refined compositions and a very personal sentiment.


With a solid background in realistic sketching that proved vital to his artistic achievements, Professor Chao's works are not only astoundingly accurate in their representation, but also imbued with a poetic mood and a tangible inner soul.


Professor Chao's sketches not only serve as a visual diary of his observation of and sensitivity towards nature, but also demonstrate his highly creative activities and his perception of and feeling for a variety of subjects. What's more, they are rare and important documents for the study and interpretation of Professor Chao's art.


Focusing on this important part of Professor Chao's artistic activity and supplemented with related paintings and selected photographs, that exhibition featured about 200 sketches of birds, flower, landscapes and insects. Most of the exhibits had been selected from the museum's own collection and date from as early as the 1920s up to the 1990s.


To coincide with that representative exhibition, various educational events were provided for visitors to explore this special world of Professor Chao. And to make it more widely accessible for appreciation and research, a fully illustrated catalogue was published to celebrate Professor Chao's artistic achievements.


 
Exhibit Highlights

Buddist Monk Buddist Monk
Chao Shao-an
Not dated
Ink on paper
95(H) x 35.5 (W) cm



Duxiu Shan
Chao Shao-an
Ca. 1943
Sketch, ink on paper
28 (H) x 18 (W) cm

Inscription:
Signed Shao-an.
Duxiu Shan


Chuzenji Lake Chuzenji Lake
Chao Shao-an
1951
Sketch, ink on paper
22.5 (H) x 59 (W) cm

In this depiction of a lakeside scene at a temple in Nikko, Japan, the bare trees thinly scattered in the foreground and the fine view of the distant shore vividly create a bleak early winter setting. The poem inscribed on the painting states: 'The soul is as peaceful as the lake water while the body is as carefree as the clouds. People cannot reach here, but the bright mirror is in one's world.' Through Chao's exquisite polish and expressive flow of feelings, the drawing presents a meditative mood of perfect harmony and a subject worthy of admiration.


Orchid
Chao Shao-an
1969
Ink on paper
24.5 (H) x 29 (W) cm
Orchid


Hydrangea Hydrangea
Chao Shao-an
1956
Sketch, ink on paper
25 (H) x 58(W) cm

Inscription:
On 23 April, 1956, Shao-an at Tze Wan Shan.


Hydrangea
Chao Shao-an
1960s
Album leaf, ink and colour on paper
33 (H) x 48 (W) cm
Hydrangea


Lotus Lotus
Chao Shao-an
1974
Sketch, ink on paper
29 (H) x 38 (W) cm

Inscription:
On 7 June, 1974, Shao-an at Ching Chung Koon Temple.


Moonlight over the Pond
Chao Shao-an
1969
Horizontal scroll, ink and colour on paper
96 (H) x 184.5 (W) cm
Moonlight over the Pond


My Bird My Bird
Chao Shao-an
1988
Sketch, ink on paper
29 (H) x 37.5 (W) cm

Painted with simple and concise lines, the picture vividly portrays an old and ailing bird with rumpled feathers and weak legs, one that Chao actually kept for more than 20 years. The bird leans forward, its head bowed with both eyes closed. The inscription – 'In memory of this old bird which died this morning and which I buried under the front steps of my house. In deep grief and sadness, this painting is my memento of it. May it enjoy eternal freedom in the other world.'– describes the artist's intense feelings towards the image of his subject.


Cicadas
Chao Shao-an
1944
Sketch, ink and colour on paper
23 (H) x 20.5 (W) cm

To Professor Chao's, cicada symbolizing the pure and lofty aspirations. In his early years, he had drawn cicadas to bespeak his will and published an album of simple sketches entitled The Charming Cicada. Here, the sketch features different postures of cicada with simple lines, but presents a neat and exquisite style.
Cicadas


Cicada Cicada
Chao Shao-an
1985
Album leaf, mounted on vertical;
ink and colour on paper
30 (H) x 38 (W) cm




Other Past Exhibitions