The HKU Museum Society and the University Museum and Art Gallery are pleased to arrange a guided viewing of two exhibitions, Picturing the Bauhaus: Erich Consemüller‘s Photography of the World’s Most Famous Design School and Art of the Iron Brush: Bamboo Carvings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This will be followed with a bamboo and wood carving demonstration and talk (in Cantonese) with Master Carver Cheung, one of the carvers of the Wisdom Path in Lantau Island.
Picturing the Bauhaus: Erich Consemüller‘s Photography of the World’s Most Famous Design School
The University Museum and Art Gallery has collaborated with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, the Goethe-Institut Hong Kong and the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong, on the exhibition Picturing the Bauhaus: Erich Consemüller‘s Photography of the World’s Most Famous Design School. This collaboration will present the documentary photography of Erich Consemüller as an introduction to the famed German design and architecture school that is celebrating its 100 anniversary this year. Consemüller (1902–1957) recorded the artists, their workshops, designs and artefacts, as well as the students and their daily lives on campus from 1926 to 1927, when the Bauhaus school was in its prime and located in Dessau.
Art of the Iron Brush: Bamboo Carvings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Durable, flexible and abundant in nature, bamboo has been used as a material and a subject in Chinese art for millennia. At first woven into baskets, containers and other everyday objects during the Neolithic period, over successive centuries bamboo came to be used in increasingly sophisticated ways, at the same time attaining numerous symbolic meanings. Because it bends in a storm but does not break, it was particularly associated with the integrity and personal virtue of the scholarly elite, who embraced its symbolic value by planting bamboo in their courtyards, observing it in the wild, and by producing, acquiring and displaying delicate bamboo objects suitable for various scholarly pursuits, such as painting and calligraphy.
During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), scholarly and imperial patronage transformed bamboo carving into a major art form. Scholar-carvers and workshops centred around Jiading (in present-day Shanghai) and Jinling (now Nanjing) produced large numbers of brush pots, wrist rests, miniature landscapes, figurines and other objects. Many bamboo carvers also worked in other materials soft enough to be manipulated with the ‘iron brush’—a term for knives and other carving tools used by literati to transfer their brushwork aesthetic to other media—including boxwood, rhinoceros’ horns and ivory, which shared a kind of loose identity under the heading of diaoke (‘carving’ in modern Chinese). Small in scale yet teeming with life, the works in this exhibition reflect both prodigious technical skill and great imaginary involvement, because of the unique shapes and contortions of the materials involved.
Wood and bamboo carving demonstration
During the carving demonstration, carver Master Cheung Sing Hung ( 張醒熊， also known as 酉星) will display some special carving tools and demonstrate wood and bamboo carving techniques and processes. Master Cheung is a renowned sculptor and calligrapher who has won numerous prizes in woodcarving and calligraphy. He acts as President of the Chinese Character Society of Hong Kong and was master woodcarver for Wisdom Path ( 心經簡林) in Lantau Island in 2004-2005.
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.
Benjamin Chiesa is Assistant Curator at the University Museum and Art Gallery. He was previously Assistant Curator of Cross-cultural Art at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. His research focuses on hybridity and artistic exchange between China, Japan and Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with a particular focus on ceramics and silverware made for export to the West. His publications include Objectifying China: Ming and Qing Dynasty Ceramics and Their Stylistic InfluencesAbroad, Auspicious Designs: Batik for Peranakan Altars and Devotion and Desire: Cross-cultural Art in Asia.