Cultivating the Dream of Chinese Painting

(from left) Prof. Ng Yuet-lau, President of Ling Ngai Association and Chairlady of the Hong Kong Lingnan Art Association (3rd left); Prof. Samuel Sun (3rd right), Master of S.H. Ho College, CUHK; Prof. Philip Chiu (2nd right), Assistant Dean (External Affairs) of the Faculty of Medicine, CUHK; pose for a photo with students of S.H. Ho College in front of Prof Ng’s painting dedicated to the College titled 'Inspiring Young Minds in a Home-like College'.

Chinese Painting originated in the Tang dynasty. The innovative Lingnan School focuses on sketching in nature, where different objects found could be artistic themes. Bright colours adopted in Lingnan painting have marked a watershed from other Chinese painting schools. Prof. Ng Yuet-lau, a renowned Hong Kong painter and President of Ling Ngai Association, joined hands with her son Prof. Philip Chiu to organize an art exhibition named ‘Lingnan Images—Paintings by Prof. Ng Yuet-lau and Prof. Philip Chiu’. The exhibition was held at S.H. Ho College, which is the first stop of their roving exhibitions. It presents more than 50 pieces which include their representative Chinese paintings, as well as paintings by Ling Ngai Association members and students of S.H. Ho College and Christian Zheng Sheng College. The themes cover landscapes, flowers and birds, as well as local customs and humanity aspects. Prof. Ng taught students from S.H. Ho College and Christian Zheng Sheng College the know-how of Chinese painting, among which some students even followed Prof. Ng to a sketching tour in the mainland. Students’ paintings are first exhibited, signifying the meaning of cultural inheritance. 

The opening ceremony was held on 4 March. Officiating guests include Prof. Ng Yuet-lau, President of Ling Ngai Association and Chairlady of Hong Kong Lingnan Art Association; Prof. Philip Chiu, Assistant Dean (External Affairs) of Faculty of Medicine, CUHK; Mr. Zhu Ting, Deputy Director General of the Publicity, Culture and Sports Department, Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR; Ms. Florence Hui, Secretary for Home Affairs, HKSAR; Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK; Prof. Samuel Sun, Master of S.H. Ho College, CUHK; Mr. Sze Chi-ching, Chairman of Hong Kong Branch of Chinese Calligraphers Association; Dr. Samson Sun, Chairman of Sun International Limited; Prof. Josh Yiu, Acting Director, Art Museum, CUHK; and Miss Angela Ng, President of Student Union Executive Council, S.H. Ho College, CUHK.

Balance Chinese and Foreign, Courage to Explore and Innovate
As one of the most remarkable Lingnan painters nowadays, Prof. Ng Yuet-lau is the third generation of Lingnan Painting, and the last closed female disciple of Prof. Chao Shaoang. Her innovative brushstrokes are demonstrated in her landscape, animals and flowers painting. Prof. Philip Chiu was also under the tutelage of Prof. Chao Shaoang. Influence by his mother’s dedication in painting, he has acquired refine painting skills. His favourite genre is flowers-and-birds painting.

Lingnan painting is known for its pursuit of innovation. The Lingnan painters’ spirit of ‘Balance Chinese and foreign. Blend tradition and modernity’ is akin to the University mission: To Combine Tradition with Modernity, To Bring Together China and the West. With the mission to groom artistic talents of next generation, Prof. Ng strives to inherit Lingnan Art. She, as an Honorary Fellow of S.H. Ho College, has been teaching the College students painting skills. She even led a group of College students to visit historical Chinese city Shaoxing to sketch in sites such as former residence of Lu Xun, Xu Wei, Wang Xizhi as well as a nostalgic town in Anchang to enhance students’ aesthetic sense and painting skills. This summer, Prof. Ng will lead a group of students composed of S.H. Ho College and Christian Zheng Sheng College to Dunhuang to visit and sketch at the World Cultural Heritage like Mogao Grottoes.

‘Lingnan Painting treasures innovation and exploration, which is in line with the spirit the College has been advocating. We encourage students to widen their horizon and to innovate. To me, Prof. Ng’s care for students is really touching. She has been tirelessly teaching students the way to observe the mundane in life and to appreciate the surroundings, which are valuable to students,’ said Prof. Samuel Sun, Master of S.H. Ho College.

Heart of Art Education Proliferates Lingnan Art
In the exhibition held at the College, Prof. Ng’s Running Horse and Goose Pond are first exhibited, displaying her refined and bold brushstrokes conveying sense of untrammeled sublimity. She even drew a picture for the College with the theme ‘Inspiring Young Minds in a Home-like College’ in appreciation to its whole person education approach. Prof. Ng said, ‘Filial piety has been the foundation of benevolence since the age of Confucius. Human bonding starts from the closest tie. That’s why ‘home’ is the root of Chinese Culture. As part of S.H. Ho College, I’m in line with its ‘home concept’ and I depicted S.H. Ho College as a cosy home of its students. Faculty members and students live together in such a home-like community, where students are motivated to deepen their learning and have their dreams take flight. This inspiration will ceaselessly inherit to endless generations.’ Prof. Philip Chiu’s Medical Hero depicts the scenario in the operation room where a surgeon is doing surgery. The theme is a familiar portrayal of a physician’s life-saving scene. The artwork is rich in personal style and his heart of doctoring.

Kevin Lee, Student of Chinese Language Studies and Chinese Language Education Programmes CUHK, said, ‘I lacked confidence in sketching at the very beginning and had been too hesitate to start sketching. But Prof. Ng once told me that sketching was not about skills or perfecting the sketch work, but the sensitivity to observe the daily life. Even twigs or leaves would be good objects for sketching. I learnt that each sketching experience was a creation itself. When I learnt to appreciate the beauty of a leaf and permanently left it on a piece of paper, the happiness engraved in my heart was invaluable.’

Regina Tse, Student of Faculty of Law, CUHK, highly admired Prof. Ng’s passion in Art Education. She said, ‘In the sketching tour, Prof. Ng introduced each historical scenic spot in detail. After a packed schedule visiting various spots, she would invite all students to show her the painting for comments. The team encountered rainstorm one day and everyone thought that the “Flowing Cups in Winding Stream” activity in the Orchid Pavilion. But Prof. Ng found the event a precious exposure for students, and she persisted in giving students such an opportunity. All the participants eventually enjoyed the literati activity like re-experiencing the literati activity that Wang Xizhi and his friends did.’

Art Journey of Prof. Ng Yuet-lau and Prof. Philip Chiu
Prof. Ng Yuet-lau had been under the tutelage of two Lingnan painting masters, Prof. Chao Shaoang and Prof. Huang Junbi in the 1970s. Her exquisite painting skills came to the fore in the 80s and became a rising star in Lingnan art. Prof. Ng places much focus on sketching in Nature, from which she has been inspired of colouring and use of ink. Excelling in a wide range of subjects in the traditional media of Chinese ink and colour, Ng has been particularly fond of painting landscapes in recent years. The prominent characteristic of her landscapes is the blending of splash ink patches with textural details in the representation of mountains and streams. This is usually supplemented with shrouding clouds, beams of sunlight and other details to enhance the richness of the pictorial appearance, displaying her virtuosity in the mastery of this traditional genre. Ever since 1986, she has been holding solo exhibitions in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Malaysia, Melbourne in Australia, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada, London in the U.K., and New York in the U.S. In 1996, a joint art exhibition with her son Philip Chiu was held in Guangzhou Museum of Art. Her solo exhibitions were held in Guangzhou Museum of Art and Shenzhen Guan Shanyue Art Museum. Her artworks were selected to be displayed in the 9th, 10th and 11th National Fine Arts Exhibition of China. Her paintings have been collected by different museums and private collectors. The Prime Minister of Canada, and Richmond City Hall of Toronto presented a certificate of appreciation to Ng in 2013, and Ng was selected to be one of the 100 most distinguished Chinese people in the world in 2014.

Prof. Philip Chiu started to learn Lingnan art under Prof. Chao Shao-ang in 1984 focusing on birds, flowers, animals and insects; later under Master Koo Mei for landscape painting. His painting titled ‘Loquat’ was selected as one of the prize-winning artworks of the China’s 9th National Art Exhibition in 1999. Prof. Chiu held his first solo art exhibition at the Hong Kong Central Library in 2009. In 2011, he held a mother-son art exhibition with demonstration of more than 60 pieces of artworks and a joint Lingnan Art Exhibition with his mother and other students of Prof. Chao Shao-ang, and received overwhelming support.

Assiduously Cultivating the Dream of Chinese Painting
Prof. Ng will continue to cultivate the dream of Chinese painting at S.H. Ho College by leading a group of College students to Dunhuang for sketching and cultural exploration from 20 to 26 June, during which they will unveil the mysteries of Mogao Caves. Dunhuang is a county-level city in northwestern Gansu Province, Western China. The 2000 Chinese census reported a population of 187,578 in this city. Dunhuang was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road and is best known for the nearby Mogao Caves. 

Prof. Ng Yuet-lau led a group of College students to sketch at the historical Chinese city of Shaoxing to enhance students' aesthetic sense and painting skills. This photo is taken in front of the students’ paintings.

Opening Ceremony of the Chinese Painting Exhibition

Prof. Ng Yuet-lau introduces her painting titled 'Inspiring Young Minds in a Home-like College'.

Prof. Philip Chiu introduces his painting named ‘Medical Hero’.