Painting out of the world, monks and scholars of the Ming and Qing dynasties - Chih Lo Lou collection

This exceptional exhibition presents a collection of over one hundred masterpieces of ancient Chinese painting. These paintings and calligraphy, exhibited in Europe for the first time, were born from the brushes of the greatest masters of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties.

Before being offered to the Hong Kong Museum of Art in 2018, these works were patiently collected by the collector Ho Lu-kwong (1907-2006) who, according to Chinese tradition, gave them the name of Chih Lo Lou. , “The pavilion of perfect bliss”.

 Three centuries of Chinese painting

The works of the exhibition Painting out of the world were created at a key moment in Chinese history, between the mid-XNUMXth centurye century and the beginning of the XVIIIe century, a period marked by a profound historical break which resulted in a dynastic alternation. During these three centuries of greatness and misery, the millennial aspirations of sages and poets to withdraw from the world to live among forests and mountains take on a new meaning under the painters' brush.

Gardens, landscapes and the quest for wisdom

Le landscape genre has played a major role in the history of Chinese painting since the Song dynasty (960-1279). Under the Ming, landscapes and gardens are invested with many meanings, reflections of collective practices, but also of the most personal aspirations. Thus, the gardens of southern China evoked by the famous painters of the Ming dynasty, such as Shen Zhou (1427-1509) ou Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), present the poetic image of an ideal shared by many scholars of their time. Within a life mainly dedicated to the duties of their administrative burdens, some see in these corners of nature, places where the quest for wisdom becomes possible through study and meditation. Others describe, in the form of vast landscapes which unfold on long rollers, the stages of journeys accomplished in dreams.

The mountain, refuge and source of inspiration

For these scholars, the collapse of the Ming dynasty and the conquest of the empire by the Manchus are deeply traumatic events. The capture of Beijing in 1644 and the founding of a new dynasty were followed by forty years of armed resistance. In this context, many people refuse to serve the new Qing dynasty and isolate themselves in the mountains. Giving up the career of civil servant and masking their identity, some become monks. It will be the fate of painters Shitao (1642-1707) et Badashanren (1626-1705), members of the fallen imperial family, who, by donning the monastic habit, made the temples their refuge and the mountains their source of inspiration.


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