Hong Kong Museum of Art receives unprecedented donation of calligraphy and paintings by Jat See-yeu for permanent collection

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The opening ceremony of the "Boundless Universe: Calligraphy by Jat See-yeu" exhibition and donation ceremony was held yesterday at the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA). Photo shows (from left) the Chairman of Museum Advisory Committee, Professor Douglas So; the Under Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr Raistlin Lau; Jat See-yeu's son, Mr Jat Sew-tong, SC; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mr Vincent Liu; Jat's wife, Mrs Jat Hwang Sun-lun; Jat's daughter, Ms Jat Mo-yue; the Commissioner for Tourism, Ms Vivian Sum; and the Museum Director of the HKMoA, Dr Maria Mok, in front of an artwork more than 6 metres wide named "Calligraphy in running script" by Jat.

8th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) has recently been the beneficiary of a remarkable donation, as the family of esteemed Hong Kong calligraphist Jat See-yeu (1935 – 2009) generously contributed 123 sets of valuable artworks comprising Chinese calligraphy and paintings to the museum’s permanent collection. This donation stands as the largest single contribution of calligraphy works by an individual Hong Kong artist that the museum has ever received. Notably, 85 sets of these newly acquired artworks have been meticulously selected for display at the “Boundless Universe: Calligraphy by Jat See-yeu” exhibition, which is set to open on December 8. This exhibition will serve as a testament to Jat’s creative journey and his significant role in promoting contemporary calligraphy in Hong Kong.

During the opening ceremony of the exhibition and donation ceremony at the HKMoA, Mr. Vincent Liu, the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, addressed the gathering. He underscored the museum’s commitment to showcasing the unique art and Chinese culture of Hong Kong through diverse curatorial endeavours. He expressed his appreciation for the Jat family’s generous donation, which he reiterated, demonstrated their generous spirit and unwavering dedication to the public good. Mr. Liu further highlighted that the collection encompasses a diverse range of Mr. Jat’s calligraphic creations across various periods, featuring various calligraphic scripts and works integrating calligraphy and paintings. He emphasized that this collection would serve as an invaluable resource for studying the development of calligraphy in Hong Kong.

The Director of Leisure and Cultural Services also emphasised the commitment of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to promoting the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong, effectively narrating the city’s stories. He expressed hopes that through this exhibition, the younger generation would gain a deeper understanding of Chinese calligraphy, a unique art form in Chinese culture. Furthermore, he anticipated that visitors would perceive Jat See-yeu’s affection for life and Hong Kong while appreciating his innovative calligraphic endeavours.

The ceremony also hosted other dignitaries, including Jat’s son, Mr. Jat Sew-tong, SC; the Chairman of the Museum Advisory Committee, Professor Douglas So; and the Museum Director of the HKMoA, Dr. Maria Mok.

Jat See-yeu’s profound passion for calligraphy was nurtured from a young age. His journey in the art began during his secondary school years under the tutelage of accomplished Hong Kong calligraphist Au Kin-kung. Subsequently, his studies under the guidance of ink painting master Lui Shou-kwan in the 1960s and 1970s sparked his exploration into diversified realms of calligraphy. Jat ardently pursued evolution and innovation while staying rooted in traditional calligraphy, dedicating his life to the art form and actively contributing to its promotion and education. In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the Medal of Honour by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2001.

The exhibition, “Boundless Universe: Calligraphy by Jat See-yeu,” is segmented into four zones based on four perspectives, each offering unique insights into Jat’s artistic journey. Highlight exhibits include a six-meter-wide “Calligraphy in running script” expressed in a roving, uninhibited style; “Orchid blossoms,” a groundbreaking piece blending calligraphy and ink painting; “Calligraphy in clerical script” inspired by nature’s splendor; the magnificent large-scale work “Verse in running-cursive script” from his advanced years; and the original ink on paper works of the two wooden couplets currently hanging at the Kowloon Walled City Park.

The exhibition will also feature Jat’s calligraphy performance with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in 1999, showcasing his spontaneous creation of large-scale calligraphy accompanied by live music. Additionally, a dynamic timeline will present Jat’s artistic journey and the development of Hong Kong calligraphy groups since the 1950s, providing audiences insights into the multifaceted growth of Hong Kong calligraphy and the cultural essence rooted in tradition.