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One of Asia's finest private collections of Chinese ink art showcased in a public exhibition
Installation view.

HONG KONG.- The M K Lau Collection, one of Asia’s finest private collections of 19th and 20th century brush and ink paintings, opens new show Intimate Encounters: Handscrolls and Albums from the M K Lau Collection. Following the success of its inaugural presentation in Beijing in November 2017, the exhibition showcases 50 works that have rarely been presented to the public in Hong Kong. The collection of world-class pieces by pre-eminent Chinese masters including Ding Yanyong, Ju Lian, Lu Yanshao, Pu Ru, Wu Changshuo, Wu Hufan, Yu Fei’an, and Zhang Daqian, embody the creative spirit and versatility of ink art over centuries. The canonical exhibition takes place at the Qube, PMQ, and runs from 24 March to 5 April 2018.

Celebrating the momentous exhibition, Victor Lo, Co-Founder of the M K Lau Collection said: “We are delighted to be showcasing this exhibition of handscrolls and albums in Hong Kong, a city of inspirational importance to our collection. These two formats are integral to the Chinese ink painting tradition and have long been a collecting focus for us. As handscrolls are unrolled, sequence by sequence, and leaves in an album viewed one by one, the interactive delight in brush and ink creations is heightened and perception is sharpened. Usually viewed by an individual or small group of friends, we are pleased to share them with a wider audience.”

Showcasing rare and superb examples that have been collected over three decades, the immersive exhibition includes equal halves of handscrolls and album leaves from the 19th to 20th centuries. These works are intimate and participatory formats of Chinese ink art – handscrolls are unrolled from right to left, inviting viewers to take an interactive journey, while albums are a group of distinct artworks brought together in a cohesive book form. Engaging visitors with a sense of surprise and discovery, Intimate Encounters seeks to highlight the participatory qualities of these art forms.

The exhibition begins with works by artists from Hong Kong and the Lingnan region. A highlight in this section is a charming, accordion-style album by Ding Yanyong which is painted on both sides with humorous images of people, birds and other creatures. Ding, born in Guangdong Province, was a significant master of Chinese ink painting, oil painting and seal carving. His work shows the influence of artists as varied as the purity and simplicity of Bada Shanren and the line and colour of Henri Matisse. Figures, Birds and Acquatic Creatures is an exceptional 16-leaf album embodying the artist’s characteristic vivacity and dynamism. Caricature-like figures are marked with satire and irony, as well as a playful, childlike charm.

The exhibition continues with artists from Shanghai and the surrounding regions. A highlight is Zhang Daqian’s Landscapes of Mount Huang, an album of 12 leaves, complemented by a handscroll by his brother Zhang Shanzi, entitled Panorama of Mount Huang. Executed in 1933, Daqian’s intimate album, painted on rare Song dynasty paper, records the UNESCO World Heritage Site in all its glory, making use of diverse brushwork to represent the distinctive scenery. The landscape unfolds over 12 vignettes to trace the flow of the artist’s consciousness from experience to poetry to painting, embodying the complexity of the visual project at hand, and the depth of emotions required in its creation. Continuing on, is a treasured work by Pu Ru, considered the most talented painter among the Manchu imperial family. The show dedicates a number of works to the master, highlighting Pu Ru’s unique approach to classical themes, which combines descriptive representations with atmospheric effects, well represented in the monumental 11-metre (36 feet) long handscroll Lofty Landscape, painted in ink on paper.

Catherine Maudsley, Curator and Senior Advisor of the M K Lau Collection said: “The contemplative nature of handscrolls and albums is all-absorbing. While the subjects vary from poetic to humorous and serious to lighthearted, and the brushwork may range from the freely-brushed xieyi style to the meticulous line gongbi approach, handscrolls and albums encourage close-up viewing. To allow for public display, the exhibition unrolls the handscrolls and presents many of the album leaves in frames or placed in sequence in in custom-made display cases. We hope exhibition visitors will experience and enjoy the intimacy the formats afford.”

Intimate Encounters: Handscrolls and Albums from the M K Lau Collection is a testament not only to the connoisseurship and scholarship of the M K Lau Collection, but also to the rich and endless stylistic variations of handscrolls and albums, encouraging visitors to immerse and appreciate art away from the contemporary culture of instant gratification.

Committed to enhancing cultural education and access, the M K Lau Collection will present a series of community engagement programmes as part of Intimate Encounters. Two sessions of public guided tours will be offered daily, available for pre-registration in both Chinese and English. The tours offer a deeper understanding of traditional Chinese art forms for the wider community, and extend the collection’s reach through knowledge exchange. Located in Room S214 of PMQ, near the exhibition, the interactive Children’s Activity Zone will be vibrantly decorated with introductory information inspired by the works by Ding Yanyong, Pu Ru, and Zhang Daqian, an immersive atmosphere for all ages. Children will be provided blank album leaves and handscrolls that encourage them to create visual stories, promoting creative thinking and imaginative play. Rubber stamps, custom-made with images from exhibited works depicting the three key Chinese painting subjects - Flowers and Birds (花鳥), Figures and Animals (人物), and Landscapes (山水) - allow young artists to create scenographies of the mind, whilst learning the fundamental components and subject matters of Chinese ink painting.

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