3 Exhibitions at the University Museum and Art Gallery with Dr. Florian Knothe and Ben Chiesa
The Executive Committee is pleased to organise a gallery talk on three very different exhibitions currently presented by the University Museum and Art Gallery.
1.”North Korea in the Public’s Face: Twentieth-century Propaganda Posters from the Zellweger Collection”
Stylistically influenced by communist brutalist propaganda and the core work on North Korean art—Kim Jong Il’s 1992 publication Treatise on Art (Misullon)—all of these state-commissioned posters – displayed for the first time in Hong Kong – promote ‘correct’ forms of socialist realism, thereby documenting the socio-political and economic policies communicated from the Leader to the North Korean people. In so doing, daily activities are aligned with political beliefs; for example, the metaphorical configuration of rice farming with the cultivation of socialism. The imagery displayed offers insights into a country that few have visited and from which first-hand information remains sporadic and inconsistent at best.
2.”Ifugao Sculpture: Expressions in Philippine Cordillera Art”
The Ifugao are particularly well known for their ritual wood carving and weaving. Many artworks reflect their complex indigenous religion, which is marked by a cosmology that includes thousands of deities. Particularly noteworthy is their skill in carving bululs, carved wooden figures used to guard and augment the rice crop by the Ifugao (and their sub-tribe Kalanguya) and other peoples of the agriculturally well-developed Cordillera mountains. The sculptures are highly stylised representations of ancestors, and are thought to gain power from the presence of ancestral spirits. Rarely shown in such a large group display, both figurative sculptures and ritual boxes exemplify the talent of artists from the Ifugao, Bontoc and Kankanaey tribes in the northern Luzon region of the Philippines.
3..”Objectifying China: Ming and Qing Dynasty Ceramics and their Stylistic Influences Abroad”
Porcelain, with its fine white body, delicately painted decoration and associations with China’s culture and vast wealth, has long delighted and captivated people abroad—not only in the Western world, but also within Asia, for example in Korea, Southeast Asia and the Islamic world. And like all successful inventions, it inspired imitations in major ceramic production centres around the world, made using local materials and decorative techniques. These often took interesting forms: from brittle, tin-glazed earthenwares decorated with fantastic figures in the Netherlands, to elegantly incised greenwares from Thailand and Vietnam.
This exhibition includes selected loan objects from the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and UMAG’s permanent collection, each considered from a number of different perspectives: as the products of skilled artisans; valuable trade commodities, useful objects of daily life and as important evidence of cultural interaction.
Our tour will be led by Museum Director, Dr. Florian Knothe and Assistant Curator Ben Chiesa.
Dr. Florian Knothe studies and teaches the history of decorative arts in the 17th and 18th centuries with particular focus on the social and historic importance of royal French manufacture. He has long been interested in the early modern fascination with Chinoiserie and the way royal workshops and smaller private enterprises helped to create and cater to this long-lasting fashion.
Dr. Knothe worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art focusing on European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and on European and East Asian glass at The Corning Museum of Glass, before joining The University of Hong Kong, where he now serves as Director of the University Museum and Art Gallery.
Ben Chiesa is a scholar of cross-cultural art with an interest in exchanges between China, Japan, and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. His current research focuses on the consumption of luxury objects in the treaty ports of China and Japan; particularly furniture and porcelain. Before joining UMAG in June 2017, Mr Chiesa worked as a curator of Asian export art at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, where he curated several major exhibitions, including “China Mania! The Global Passion for Porcelain”, “800–1900 and Auspicious Designs: Batik for Peranakan Altars”.