Eternally Revolving Twin Rocks
Qi Baishi and Shi Lu

6/5/2016 - 9/7/2016

Qi Baishi and Shi Lu are masters of Chinese painting in the twentieth century. While continuing the traditions of Chinese painting, they searched for new directions of Chinese art and produced works of art that evoke amazement to this day.

The exhibition features over 40 items of works by Qi and Shi, selected from two Hong Kong private collections, Debonair Villa and Yitao Collection. Drawing a comparison between the two masters, this exhibition explores their artistic development and the processes in which they innovated the traditional Chinese art.

Message from director

Qi Baishi was born to peasants and received no formal education. His gift of talent enabled him to understudy numerous artists in traditional art forms covering poetry, calligraphy, painting and seal carving. He made a living by selling his paintings. Qi had been to many places in China and visited Vietnam as well but never travelled far abroad to be exposed to western art. He inherited the skills of
great masters of traditional art and concurrently broke new grounds to create his unique style.

Born fifty-five years later than Qi, Shi Lu came from an affluent family. Unlike Qi, Shi was trained at an artschool, and had travelled to Tibet, Qinghai Province and even India, Egypt where he had a glimpse of
the local culture. At first, Shi produced pop art of comic series and prints as propaganda tools for patriotism and revolution during Sino Japanese war {1937-1945). He switched to pursue Chinese painting
in 1950s and created outstanding figure and landscape paintings. His later works are mainly of the flower and bird genre.

The two artists differed in the course of their careers. Despite his harsh, poor life initially and lack of formal education, Qi was more fortunate in that he learnt from many predecessors and eventually mastered
the traditional literati art forms. Shi involved a major part of his life in both Chinese and western art until he expressed his potential in creating spectacular art works using traditional art ingredients at a later stage of life.

Both artists spent their formative years when turmoil swept across China. Qi had better luck, living his later years in peace while Shi was confronted with all sorts of hardships.

Qi depicted popular themes of traditional Chinese painting as well as objects less frequently painted by previous painters. These objects commonly found in life such as flowers, fruits, animals, insects and aquatic animals, did not evoke auspicious meanings thus neglected by previous painters. It is apparent that Qi found inspiration from his surroundings. Both Shi and Qi had a penchant for depicting lives of people. It is probable that Qi kept exploring new themes in order to appeal to a wider range of customers for his art. His paintings nevertheless always contain moral teachings which are the core of traditional literati painting. On the other hand, Shi's art served political ends and depicted themes readily comprehensible for and acceptable to the public. His paintings are captivating and didactic at the same time.

Figures, animals and plants in Qi’s paintings are imbued with vitality. Likewise, his mountains, rocks and running water are rendered with energy. Shi maintained that the essence of transmitting impressions in figure drawing would be the same in landscape painting. Indeed, the two masters shared the same fundamental concept in painting.

In their works of flowers, leaves, birds, fruits, insects, trees cum animals, and figures cum rocks, the balance and composition are immaculate. The painting might appear simple but all objects are inter-related to arouse viewers’ interest. Without adequate observation, no amount of imagination in the viewers would enable them to paint what is both refreshing and rational.

With different background and life experience, Qi and Shi carved out their own artistic careers. Although Qi’s works continue the tradition of Chinese painting, he outshines predecessors with ground-breaking themes and compositions. Shi also studied traditional Chinese painting but he placed more emphasis on spiritual likeness than brush techniques and colour applications. He fashioned Chinese painting with western art skills such that the creations became more intriguing. Doubtlessly, both artists innovated Chinese paintings.

Both Qi and Shi have passed on, but their creativity is immortal, with far reaching influence on Chinese painting. They occupy prominent positions in the realm of Chinese painting, resembling unyielding rocks, or shi, the Chinese character that appears in both of their names.

Sun Museum is delighted to present the works of the two masters under the theme of “twin rocks”. Exhibits were selected from two Hong Kong private collections, Debonair Villa and Yitao. We would like to extend our gratitude to the two collectors for their generous support.

YEUNG Chun Tong

Exhibits

Exhibition Catalogue

Chief Editor: YEUNG Chun Tong
2016, hardcover, Chinese/English, 128 pages, 23.5 x 31 cm
ISBN: 978-988-14155-4-7

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring 47 items of works by Qi Baishi and Shi Lu, selected from two Hong Kong private collections, Debonair Villa and Yitao Collection.

Price: HKD$150

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