The M K Lau Col­lec­tion presents an in­ti­mate en­counter with rare 19th- and 20th-cen­tury Chi­nese ink and brush paint­ings in Hong Kong.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Art & De­sign - By SAM YEN

The goal of Chi­nese ink wash paint­ing is not to re­pro­duce, but to cap­ture spirit. When paint­ing a tiger, for ex­am­ple, the aim is not to repli­cate its mus­cles or stripes ex­actly, but to de­pict its re­gal coun­te­nance or la­tent fe­roc­ity. This ex­pres­sion of the style – which dates back to the fifth cen­tury AD – may have changed over his­tory, but the in­tent is still the same.

Fo­cus­ing on the 19th and 20th cen­turies, the M K Lau Col­lec­tion is one of Asia’s finest pri­vate col­lec­tions of Chi­nese ink and brush paint­ings. Its cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion in Hong Kong, ti­tled In­ti­mate En­coun­ters, zooms in on a par­tic­u­lar genre – hand­scrolls and al­bums. Meant as an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, such works re­veal them­selves grad­u­ally as a hand­scroll is un­rolled or when the leaves of an al­bum are turned.

“Our col­lec­tion has a wealth of ma­te­ri­als that al­lows a va­ri­ety of cu­ra­to­rial ap­proaches,” says Catherine Maud­s­ley, cu­ra­tor and se­nior ad­viser of the M K Lau Col­lec­tion. “For this, we have or­gan­ised the paint­ings based on sub­ject mat­ter – flower-and-bird ( hua niao), hu­man- and- an­i­mals ( ren wu) and land­scapes ( shan shui). There is also a gen­er­ally geo­graphic jour­ney; the great masters Zhang Daqian and Pu Ru were known by the phrase Nan Zhang Bei Pu – Zhang in the south, Pu in the north.”

The masters of the era are all rep­re­sented, in­clud­ing Zhang, Pu, Ding Yany­ong, Ju Lian, Lu Yan­shao and Wu Hu Fan. Lesser­known artists are also show­cased in the col­lec­tion of 50 pieces to spot­light spe­cific artis­tic merit. Liu Danzhai’s Wa­ter Fes­ti­val hand­scroll, for ex­am­ple, is a peer­less nar­ra­tive of the Dai tribe’s lit­tle­known Wa­ter Fes­ti­val. An­other ma­jor high­light is Pu’s hand­scroll study of the five fa­mous pine trees of the Ji­etai Tem­ple in Beijing.

First shown in Beijing last year, In­ti­mate En­coun­ters co­in­cides with Art Basel Hong Kong, bring­ing an in­ter­na­tional eye to the col­lec­tion. The ex­hi­bi­tion is held at Qube in PMQ un­til 5 April. hk ≠

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