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The Opening of Guqin, Porcelain and Paintings Exhibitions - A Multi-faceted Upgrade of the Hunan Museum Exhibition System

2019-05-16 11:13
From the Hunan Museum

To showcase the unique and charismatic cultural atmosphere of the Hunan Museum, not to mention bringing a diverse cultural enjoyment to the visitors, the Hunan Museum will launch three themed exhibition on May 18, 2019, including the exhibitions of guqin, porcelain and calligraphy and paintings. The Hunan Museum is proud to be the main organizer for this event, to serve as an important tribute to this international celebration.
The Hunan Museum, rich in its collection of cultural relics, boasts more than 180,000 pieces of collections from ancient times to the modern era. In addition to the unearthed relics from Mawangdui Han Tombs and bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, the diverse and splendid collections also include various ceramics, a large number of ancient Guqin, outstanding masterpieces of painting and calligraphy etc. In accordance with the features of the exhibits, the Hunan Museum will launch three themed exhibitions that reveal the artifacts’ beauty and cultural significance, also highlighting the characteristics and strengths of Hunan culture. The exhibitions include “Exhibition of Guqin Culture in Hunan”, “Porcelain Paintings - from the Changsha Kiln to the Liling Kiln”, “Painting on My Own - Exhibition of Qi Baishi’s Art”. This enables the museum and its exhibitions to acquire a comprehensive upgrade: with two permanent exhibitions as the core, three themed exhibitions as supplement, and two high-quality original special exhibitions as dynamic part of the exhibition system. All of these to bring to the visitors a diverse cultural choices and enjoyment to the audience.
Exhibition of Guqin Culture

“Guqin”, originally called “Qin”, also known as “The Lyre” and “Yaoqin”, is one of the most ancient instruments in the history of Chinese civilization. As the homeland of Guqin, Hunan has a long and deep relationship with guqin . The “Spiriting in Xiangjiang River –Guqin Culture Exhibition” will provide the visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of guqin, thus appreciating the unique charisma of guqin art.
The Hunan Museum boasts a collection of 53 pieces of guqin unearthed or created between the Western Han Dynasty (206BC- 25AD) and the Republic of China period (1912-1949). This collection is hence recognized as an integral part of the Chinese guqin culture. The “Guqin Culture Exhibition”, consisting of 28 pieces of elaborately selected guqin, explores the guqin complex in Hunan culture and the influence of Guqin on Hunan culture, mostly based on the people and events related to local Guqin. Additionally, it reveals the long history and rich regional characteristics of the Chinese Guqin, the essence of the Guqin appreciative culture and musical education culture from the perspective of makers, performer, compositions, schools of Guqin, legends and stories.
The exhibition comprises of four parts, which makes for a comprehensive introduction to the Hunan guqin culture. The first part, “Vision - The Legend and Origin of Guqin”, focuses on the historical classics and guqin-related archaeological materials, people and events through the use of pictures and scenes. Therefore restoring the deep-rooted origins of guqin culture. The exhibits also include the guqin with seven strings, unearthed from the Mawangdui No. 3 Han Tomb and the bronze mirror with guqin-playing pattern of the Tang Dynasty.
In the second part, "Aspiration - Hunan Scholars and Guqin", a total of 22 pieces of guqin are exhibited, which includes the famous Duyouqin and Feiquanqin in the Tang Dynasty, labled as the “two treasures” by the renowned modern musician, Yang Zongji. Not to mention the extremely rare designed Hemingqiuyueqin from the Ming Dynasty and the relic of the former Hunan revolutionary leader Tan Sitong, Bengtingqin. Each guqin speaks of a story that intertwines with the history of Hunan, and adds on to its uniquely rich culture.

The third part, "Ritual Music - Guqin in Ritual Music", introduces the development of the Literary Bureau and the ritual system in Hunan through the showcase of more one-of-a-kind guqins and related relics. The last part of the exhibition, “Manufacture – Guqin Creation Process” mainly displays the shapes, internal structures and the fine craftsmanship of guqin with pictures and deconstruction of guqin parts.

Porcelain Paintings from the Changsha Kiln to the Liling Kiln

Porcelains become vivid with the decoration of paintings, while paintings are granted immortality because of porcelains. From the mysterious brownish paintings to the multicolored underglaze, porcelain artwork has been refined through the innovation of new techniques and application of abundant colors over the course of thousands of years. The exhibition, "Porcelain painting - from the Changsha Kiln to the Liling Kiln", presents the whole picture of the development of Chinese porcelain painting in an unprecedented way, bringing the visitors on this amazing journey of porcelains with the aid of these colorful paintings.
The exhibition has selected more than 160 pieces of various types of painting porcelains from the Hunan Museum and four other institutions including Jiangxi Provincial Museum, Hebei Cizhou Kiln Museum, Jingdezhen Ceramic Archaeological Research Institute and Hunan Provincial Cultural Relics Exchange and Identification Center, in order to demonstrate the ceramic techniques, painting skills and the characteristics of decorations from the Tang Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty, as well as early Republic of China. 

The exhibition is divided into seven parts: “The Changsha Kiln Porcelain Painting” introduces the first peak of development of China's painted porcelain — the Changsha Kiln of the Tang Dynasty; “Painted Porcelain in the North and South” shows the underglaze painted porcelain in the Southern and Northern folk kilns of the Song and Jin Dynasties; "Moving to the Secluded Blue" describes the role of underglaze painted porcelain as a transition to the “blue-and-white era of porcelain” and the fascinating debut of the blue-and-white porcelain in the Yuan Dynasty; "The Court and Folk Painting" reveals the grand development of the painted porcelains in the Ming Dynasty; " Charming as Always" presents the golden age of painted porcelain in the Qing Dynasty; "The Fusion of Porcelain and Painting" shows a new look of porcelain painting from the late Qing Dynasty to the early Republic of China; "Underglaze Multicolored Porcelain" showcases the porcelains in Liling Kiln during the late Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China era. The exhibits are rich in content and diverse in varieties, including a handled multicolored underglaze ewer with lifelike lotus pattern from the Changsha Kiln during the Tang Dynasty; a porcelain pillow with a picture “Li Bai watching the waterfall” from Cizhou Kiln, displaying the farsighted artistic conception of the scene; blue and white porcelain brush holder with patterns of vivid characters as well as phoenix-tail-shaped vase with exquisite patterns from Liling Kiln during the Qing Dynasty. 

These precious cultural relics reveal the colorful development history of Chinese porcelain painting, as well as displaying the fine crafts, intricate decorations and elegant taste of both the artists and their painted porcelains to visitors.
Exhibition of Qi Baish’s Art

As the most representative painting artist in Hunan Province, Qi Baishi has acquired immense artistic achievements. From an unknown carpenter to a famed master, his legendary experience is also relishing. Qi had based his work on a single motto: “Persist on your personal painting style without minding others”. Thus allowing him to create a freehand style of drawing flowers and birds, featuring bright colors of flowers in contrast to the inky leaf, with elements maintained in their natural states, thus Pushing ushering in a new age of Chinese painting. Using a more focused angle, the exhibition has selected 100 pieces of representative paintings from the collection, including flowers, birds, landscapes and portraits, showcasing works from early to late stages of his career. The exhibition is committed to constructing a complete stylistic sequence of Qi's paintings, highlighting the unique characteristics of his paintings in the Hunan Provincial Museum.
The exhibition is divided into four parts to show visitors how Qi Baishi beccame the master he is known today. The first part, entitled by his seal inscribed with the Chinese characters “Yi Qiu Yi He, Zi Wei Guo Zhi (A peace of mind residing with the waters and mountains.)”, displays the early paintings of Qi. This fully reveal his innate talent and confidence. His early works, plain but lively, consist of particular compositions with elegant colors. The revealing personal characteristics and unique art style have laid the foundation for him to become a master. Among the exhibits, there is a copy of ancient work "Shan Shui Zhong Tang" in a stylized brush and ink similar to that of the “Four Kings of Chinese Painting”, and the "Painting of Buffalo", full ofpassion and personality in a few brush, which has shown the early attempts of Qi forming his own style. 
The second part focuses on the works of Qi Baishi during the period of reform. Experiencing a decade-long “declining reformation”, Qi established a new style that was fresh, energetic and full of joyful life with a distinct personality. Such paintings include the “Red Flowers and Inky Leaves” of the flower-and-bird painting. This style can be found in his “Painting of Pumpkin”. The pumpkin painted with ochre, the vine sketched by the ink pen, and the leaves drawn in free brushwork, making for a vivid and interesting drawing. This is a crucial period for the establishment of Qi Baishi's artistic style. His passion and confidence in his art unwavering even when life seemed bleakest.
The third part, “The Unmatching Beauty of Art”, is entitled according to the signage of Qi Baishi's “Painting of Yanlaihong”, which demonstrates the maturity and confidence in his heyday of art. The well-known works of Qi are mostly created during this period, such as the classic “Painting of Shrimp”, vivid and lively, and “Painting of a Boat Crossing the Sea”, depicting a boat floating in the river, peaceful and secluded.
The fourth part, "The Cure of a Mundane Reality", presents masterpieces from the twilight years of Qi Baishi. Although his body has grown weaker, the brilliant techniques of painting are still instinctively reflected in the works. Simple compositions with brilliant colors, sometimes creating an extraordinary realm, far exceed over other Chinese paintings in the world. 
The charm of guqin, the beauty of porcelain painting as well as the spirit of calligraphy and painting are demonstrated through the three exhibitions, which also make for an effective complement and expansion of the basic exhibitions of the Hunan Museum. Clearly positioned and prominent in its theme, the collections in the museum are displayed through a personalized exhibition set-up and an intricate scene layout. As an important window of Hunan culture, the Hunan Museum aims to create a high-quality exhibition with rich local cultural characteristics and an in-depth presentation of the spirit of the times. These are done through systematic methods and creative thinking to meet the spiritual and cultural demands of its visitors. 
Visit tips:
Free access: the public; children under the age of 12 shall be accompanied by parents or relatives. 
Opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00—17:00 (last entry at 16:00); the museum is closed on Mondays (except statutory holidays) 
Address: Themed exhibition hall on the third floor of the Hunan Museum
Hotline: 0731-84415833, 84475933