On Saturday I went to the Hong Kong Museum of Art in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon right by Victoria Harbour. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. I was impressed with how well the museum was put together. Initially I was a bit annoyed that I came right between special exhibitions, but there were plenty of works for me to slowly enjoy.
The museum was not large. However, the content of the exhibits were very thoughtful. I appreciated every detail. The pamphlets available in each gallery were not only informative but also carefully presented: each gallery’s pamphlet was bound or shapely differently. The washrooms even had Chinese art panels on the stalls!
I began with the calligraphy gallery. The gallery showed the development of the model-calligraphy of both cursive running script and clerical script, and the influence of the master Wang Xizhi (303-361). I was stunned at how beautiful and refined the calligraphy was. Each calligrapher had their own style but were influenced by previous people. I even found the clerical script divine, particularly that of Ouyang Xun (557-641). The text was small and yet every tick and brushstroke were the perfect width.
We had some calligraphy lessons in my weekly Saturday morning Chinese school. I’ll be the first to admit I was a poor calligraphy pupil. I was clumsy and my pages were full of blobs of ink, thick lines where they should have been thin and vice versa. Maybe we should have seen the work of the masters to inspire us when learning how to write. Of course, I am pretty sure 12 year olds would be disinterested regardless.
Also, note how long these people lived. Other years of birth & deaths: 1083-1140, 1296-1364, 1251-1324… I don’t know if these people were an elite class, but even so, this was 1000 years ago or so and yet they were very healthy.
The museum also featured a selection of works from Feng Zikai. He was famous for introducing the Chinese “cartoon” style. His work looked simple, yet it was thought provoking. He was a compassionate man and was vegetarian for he believed the preservation of life was the preservation of heart. Many of his cartoons had themes of children and innocence. While each title was translated to English, I wish I could have read the additional Chinese characters on the cartoons.
I related to this cartoon a lot.
He was also quite humourous. He liked sharing wine while catching up with friends and he painted one cartoon titled in English, “Red Cheeks.” Haven’t we all been there? 😉
The ceramics gallery was very well-done. It provided a broad overview of Chinese ceramics through each dynasty. To some this may be boring and unspontaneous, but it was the best way to learn about Chinese dynasties through art. The craftsmanship of the ceramics was superb.
The export painting exhibition was interesting as well. I had not heard of export paintings before. Due to the growing Western demand of paintings of China, local Chinese artists in Canton used Western techinques to create paintings for export. Paintings of Western artists who painted in areas of China were displayed side by side with the local rendition. The gallery showed that at first some local artists did not achieve the Western painting techniques. In the end, some did master the techniques. What I found most interesting was that these local artists were self-learned.
As you might tell, I really enjoyed the museum. I even spent half an hour in the gift shop. There were some typical kitschy things but some items were very nifty as art gallery gift shops often are.
I had chicken and instant noodle with milk tea for a late lunch. Nothing spectacular, but I wanted to try what instant noodles were like in cha chaan tengs. I might have to try a different place because I wasn’t too impressed–or well, you know, it was instant noodles.
Then I venutred into Mongkok. Mongkok is one of the densest areas in the world. However, I probably didn’t get the “real” Mongkok experience because it was pouring rain. Initially there were a lot of umbrellas poking around, but people redistributed. I’m actually glad I went in the rain, because there weren’t as many people. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of the Ladies Market, because I didn’t want to juggle around an umbrella, a camera and all of my purchases!
Yep, I bought quite a few things in the Ladies Market, a very narrow street with stalls on either side selling clothes, undergarments, souvenirs, toys, and an eclectic selection of goods. I picked up a couple pairs of shoes, some souvenirs and this very fabulous retro phone to plug into my laptop/cell phone. There is a speaker on the top and a microphone in the “mouthpiece.” I bought it mainly because I don’t like speaking into “nothing” on Gchat, but I might just have to keep this in my purse.
I also bargained in Cantonese by myself for the first time. I was unfortunately ripped off at first. It’s quite frustrating, but I’ll chalk it up as a learning and “cultural” experience. I think (hope) I got better nearer the end. I am also hoping that the shopkeepers gave me a relatively good deal because they had less business due to the rain. At least that’s what they said…
Here are some pictures I took earlier in the week of Mongkok, but on Goldfish Market Street, just north of Ladies Street (still on Tung Choi Street). So cute!
I finished the day with some egg waffles. Ooh, I hadn’t had these in so long and they were better than I remembered them. They were made in a specially shaped waffle maker with little holes to make the “bubbles.” These weren’t too sweet and tasted of coconut.