First art museum dedicated to celebrating southern China's regional Lingnan culture will open in March 2020

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First art museum dedicated to celebrating southern China's regional Lingnan culture will open in March 2020
Construction site of HEM.

SHUNDE.- He Art Museum in Shunde will welcome its first visitors on March 21, 2020, with an inaugural exhibition titled From The Mundane World. Named after the museum’s founder He Jianfeng – He in Chinese denotes harmony, balance and fortune; which forms the museum’s core philosophy and architectural design.

HEM is conceived as a gateway into the regional Lingnan culture and Lingnan School, an indigenous style of painting originally created by artists living in the three coastal provinces of Guangdong (known as Canton), Guangxi and Hainan (an island on the south China sea). These provinces encompass an expanse of 39 cities, two autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau and border Vietnam. The English translation of Lingnan means ‘South of the Ranges’, referring to the region south of the five mountain ranges that separate the Yangtze River from the Pearl River. HEM’s architectural design and collection pays tribute to Lingnan culture which is deeply ingrained in all its art and design forms: Lingnan-style, a highly decorative vernacular architecture; Cantonese opera with theatrical face painting and intricate yet flamboyant Cantonese cuisine.

The rotating exhibitions displayed at HEM will showcase the family’s art collection and archives of rare Lingnan art that span centuries, offering domestic and international visitors a glimpse into the indigenous culture whilst promoting declining art form. In addition to Lingnan art, HEM will also showcase international contemporary masters such as Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst and Yayoi Kusama; as well as promoting Chinese modern artists with works by the likes of Qi Baishi, Chang Dai-Chien, Zao Wou-Ki and many more.

The inaugural exhibition, From The Mundane World, is curated by leading Chinese critic, curator and leader of HEM’s curatorial team, Feng Boyi. The team of artists and art historians consists of Hu Bin, Wang Xiaosong, Liu Gang and the Director of HEM, Shao Shu. The exhibition examines the ecology between humans and their environment, natural patterns of human civilisation, mass consumption and exploitation of resources – reflecting on southern China’s fast-paced cultural and urban transformation and human progress.

HEM totals to 16,000 square meters, half of which is dedicated to exhibition space, spanning across four floors. Tadao Ando’s circular design refers to HEM’s philosophy of balance and harmony, with no hard edges and no discernible front or back, creating a building that embodies Lingnan architecture style of openness and colour palette re-imagined through modern techniques and aesthetic. Visitors will enter the museum via a walkway through a tranquil water feature that wraps around the museum. The new public realm, greenery, bookstore, caf and education spaces will be accessible to the general public and provide a quiet place for studying and rest.

Shao Shu, Director of HEM stated: “Together with our founder and colleagues, we have been on a journey to research our local history, tell our people’s stories and explore our heritage through arts and crafts. But aware of the requirements and responsibilities which operating a global private institution should bring. We want to create a unique offering that can really set HEM apart from the proliferation of private Chinese museums and define our own voice in the vast global cultural institution landscape. We are honoured to work with such a broad range of leading artists and have a number of commissions, which have been created especially for our museum. Next March will mark a new chapter in our story and begin HEM’s new journey in establishing itself on the international stage and we look forward to welcoming visitors.”

HEM is within proximity to Guangzhou South High Speed Rail station and served by four international airports, with direct trains to Hong Kong via key cities in the region.

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