top of page

Finding Animals:
20th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Yitao Collection



In Chinese traditional paintings, artists use expressive brushwork to bring out the essence of the subjects, conveying their beliefs and sentiments, as well as metaphorical meanings. Other than landscapes and flowers, animals have been a favoured subject in Chinese paintings. Significance and metaphorical meanings are associated with animals according to their appearances, habits and even the sounds of their names; such practice has been rooted in the common use of symbolism in Chinese art. Chinese painters used their creativity to seek breakthroughs from traditional techniques and reinvented animal-themed ink paintings with distinctive styles and a refreshing visual experience. Besides breakthroughs in techniques, Chinese painters from the 20th century enriched ink paintings with the sense of three-dimensionality, perspective, and vibrant colour palette common in Western paintings, making their work more vital. This exhibition features nearly 40 paintings by 10 Chinese painters of the 20th century selected from the Yitao Collection, including Qi Baishi, Gao Qifeng, Xu Beihong, Ding Yanyong, and Li Keran. These paintings showcase the artists’ varying interpretations and presentations of animals, inviting visitors to explore the intertwined relationship between animals and Chinese culture.


bottom of page