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Sports in Hong Kong Art

23/7/2021 - 16/10/2021


Organised by Sun Museum with the support of Culture Action and Art Next, the exhibition presents over 70 pieces of artwork from 38 Hong Kong artists, which are mostly created this year. These artists have employed different artistic styles and mediums to portray the theme of sports: ranging from realistic portraits of athletes, scenes of active movements in competitions, to abstract expressionism, each with its specific character. Through art, the exhibition aspires to promote sports and the spirit of athletes.

Participating artists

YAU Ngai Lam, WU Jiafu, CHU Kwok Tai, CHU Chi Kuen, Victor, YU Yuen Hong, John, LUI Koon To,
SHUM Pui Sheung, LI Yi Ying, Andrea, TAO Hoi Chuen, Jacky, CHOW Hoi Chi, Joyce, LAM Yi Kei,
HAU Siu Ching, Emily HUNG, Tung YIU, CHUI Pui Chee, MA Chuen, CHAN Enite, Tony,
CHAN Fat Hing, Henry, CHAN Chiu Lung, TO Lap Shing, CHAU Shik Hung, CHEUNG Ho Keung, Edward,
FU Man Yat, John McArthur, TSANG Chi Wai, William, TSANG Zee Ho, Paul, TSANG Chung Man,
LIU Cheng Mui, HUNG Mei Yee, Clara, Ding Ting, LAU Tai Keung, Andy, LAI Kwan Ting, Sue, TSE Kong Wah,
XIE Chengxuan, CHUNG Tai Fu, Dave, CHUNG Hoi Lam, Ashley, LO Wing Ching, Anapa, Sharmaine KWAN

The Art of Strength and Tenderness

From an early age, our human ancestors learned sports through the observation of active animals that are often either running or jumping. In order to survive, ancient humans had to mimic these animalistic actions to train themselves to become strong and resistant to illnesses and also equip themselves with hunting skills.

The reasons our ancestors played sports had always been closely related to warfare. Aiming for survival and defeating their enemies, our forefathers developed various military skills through the gradual formation of sporting activities such as archery, pugilism, driving, horse riding, swimming, weaponry fight, and catapulting. Even the football game cuju is a form of military training. The ancient Chinese named these athletic abilities wuyi (martial art).

At the same time, the ancient Chinese considered wu (martial art) as wu (dance). Moves in pugilism and sparring can transform from vigorous actions to supple postures, evolving into artistic dance movements and creating the co-existence of strength and malleability.

From this perspective, the crucial need for survival has given rise to ancient sports, martial arts. Progressively, martial arts has been infused into people's daily lives and become a public entertainment. If such martial arts were to be recorded visually, extraordinary painting techniques would be required.

Chinese painters in past dynasties excluded the depiction of disastrous warfare. They mainly included their role models such as legendary sages or outstanding literati in their figure paintings. Furthermore, they created genre paintings illustrating landscape and activities as their traveling journals. However, it is interesting to note that none of these artworks featured ancient martial arts nor left any athletic traces behind.

Evidently, people in the past did not utilise the art of painting to reflect martial arts. They primarily painted to express their delight in capturing beautiful sceneries while omitting bloodshed, fights, and hunting to avoid being tainted by these scenes. Artists solely focused on sentiments without awakening their violent passion. In nature, martial arts is in essence of yang, while only wu (dance) represents yin. Hence, dancing figures in ancient paintings are relevant to sports.

Nowadays, the concept of wuyi has faded as all forms of athletics are called “sports”. In fact, different kinds of sports are of different movements. If one were to portray these distinctive poses, it would undoubtedly be a very difficult task. Though the ancient Chinese did not attempt sports painting, Hong Kong painters today challenge their own abilities, establishing individual styles and presenting the essence of sports. By angles of realism, symbolism, and even abstractionism, these contemporary painters have employed different means to showcase athletic events, stimulating one’s interest. To create beyond tradition and revitalise the significance of figure paintings is a breakthrough for the Hong Kong art world.

This exhibition originates from the “ARThletes” programme organised by Culture Action. With the endeavour of Art Next, 10 Hong Kong artists are connected and paired with 11 Hong Kong professional athletes, allowing them to introduce their developments and achievements. In addition to these 10 founding artists, Sun Museum has also invited 28 more participants to enrich the exhibiting collection in the hope to promote mounting forms of sporting events while persevering the athletic spirit.

YEUNG Chun Tong
Director, Sun Museum


Sports in Hong Kong Art

Editor: NGAN Yu Ting
2021, paperback, Chinese/English, 111 pages, 20 x 26 cm
ISBN: 978-988-78197-9-0

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring 71 sets of artworks by 38 Hong Kong artists from different fields, including Tung YIU, Sharmaine KWAN, CHAU Shik Hung and TSE Kong Wah.

Price: HKD$100

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