Two of a kind together again

Local | Bernard Charnwut Chan 14 Mar 2018

Chao Shao-an (1905-1998) and Yao Shanshen (1913-2004) were prominent in the Lingnan School of Painting - the movement at the heart of south Chinese art in the 20th century.

They met in the 1940s and became good friends studying and working in Hong Kong. As well as being successful individually in the 1950s to 1980s, they produced joint works on paper and porcelain - two very different painting techniques. Many of these are in private collections, and are rarely if ever available for public viewing.

But now you have a chance to see them at the exhibition Porcelain and Painting at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

The works, which mostly feature plants, flowers, insects and birds, are of superb quality by any standard.

Even people who do not take a great interest in Chinese painting will be especially impressed by the "fencai" enamels on ceramics, which the duo created as artistic pieces rather than functional objects.

The works were produced at the Yuet Tung China Works, founded in Guangzhou over 100 years ago and still in operation today in Kowloon Bay.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these works is that they were produced by two artists, and viewers can see how their styles interact in one cohesive piece. For example, one of them would paint a plant and the other would add flowers. The results are seamless, though there are contrasts.

The exhibition is taking place at the Heritage Museum in Sha Tin until November 19.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of The Jockey Club CPS Advisory Committee

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