Stunning collection of bird-and-flower paintings by Chen Zhifo exhibited in Macao

Magpies and magnolias / Hanging scroll, colour on paper / 127 × 63 cm / 1955

Jointly organized by the Macao Museum of Art (MAM), under the auspices of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, and the Nanjing Museum, the exhibition “Quietness and Clarity: Works of Chen Zhifo from the Collection of the Nanjing Museum”, will be held on Friday, 23 August, at 6:30pm, at the Special Exhibition Gallery on the fourth floor of MAM. The exhibition features a total of 166 works, including painting, sketches, fenben (preparatory drawings), inspirational materials and tools by Chen Zhifo, a contemporary master of gongbi (meticulous) bird-and-flower painter and art educator, demonstrating the evolution of Zhifo’s artistic works through multiple perspectives.

Chen Zhifo (1896 – 1962), a master of gongbi bird-and-flower painting and a pioneer of Chinese modern applied arts, was the first Chinese to study pattern design in Japan at government grants. The phrase “pattern design” at that time is equivalent to the idea of “design” today. After returning to China, Chen taught at the Shanghai Oriental Art School, Shanghai Art University, the National Central University and the National College of Art, where he also served as the principal. He was devoted to cultivating professional and excellent artists for China and had made tremendous contributions to art education.

Chen paid much attention to the use of colour and composition to give brightness, clarity, elegance and gentleness to his bird-and-flower paintings with a decorative touch, paving a new way for the development of this noble traditional art. In Magpies and Magnolias, Chen took the jubilant connotation of a magpie to express his lavish praise and timeless sentiments for his motherland. The auspicious atmosphere is visualised through the abundant objects painted with bright and elegant tones of colour, and with techniques representing a harmonious union of both the tangible and intangible, the far and the near, while clearly depicting what is primary and secondary.

This exhibition is one of highlighted programme of “Art Macao”. In order to deepen the public’s understanding of Chinese gongbi bird-and-flower paintings and Chinese applied arts, MAM will hold a series of educational and promotional activities in tandem with the exhibition. The first thematic talk “Between Figure and Creativity”, will be held on 1 September, in which He Jianping, an eminent Chinese designer based in Germany, will introduce Chen Zhifo’s creative pattern design and explain how motifs convey messages and how a motif can be transformed into a creative three-dimensional fragment. Other related talks will also be held on 14 September and 12 October. In October and November, MAM will host two workshops on bird-and-flower painting, while the second phase of MAM’s art courses will start in October with some of them featuring Chen Zhifo’s works. Meanwhile, concerts and thematic guided tours will also be available in the museum.

For more information about the exhibition and activities, please visit the MAM website at The Macao Museum of Art, located at Avenida Xian Xing Hai, NAPE, is open daily from 10am to 7pm (no admittance after 6:30pm), including public holidays and is closed on Mondays. Admission is free. For enquiries, please contact MAM through tel. no. 8791 9814 during opening hours.

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