Jointly organised by the Macao Museum of Art (MAM) of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Palace Museum, the Shanghai Museum, the Macao Foundation, the Macao Government Tourism Office and the Macao Daily News, with the support of the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Residência da Companhia de Jesus, the exhibition “Beyond the Scenery: Exhibition Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Passing of Wu Li” will be inaugurated on Friday, 7 September, at 6:30, on the 4th floor of MAM, and is open to the general public.
The exhibition features a total of 84 pieces (sets) of calligraphy and paintings by the renowned painter of Qing Dynasty, Wu Li, at different times and some of his mentors and friends. This is the first large-sale solo exhibition of Wu Li. Nearly half of the exhibits are presented to the public for the first time, showcasing Wu’s art and his brush and ink in a more comprehensive way. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the death of Wu Li this year, the exhibition offers the public and visitors the highest level of paintings of the Qing Dynasty to experience the splendour and charm of Chinese culture.
Wu Li (1632-1718), with original name Qili and style name Yushan, was born in Changshu, Jiangshu province. Because there was a very deep well (mo jing) of Yan Yan, Wu Li got the sobriquet “Mo Jing Dao Ren” (Deep Well Taoist). During the Kangxi period, Wu Li came to Macao with Philippus Couplet, a Belgian Jesuit, and resided at St. Paul’s College where he studied Latin and Christian theology before returning to Jiangsu. In 1682, he joined the Society of Jesus and became a Jesuits friar in Hangzhou. He was ordained as a priest in Nanjing in 1688, and then started preaching in the Shanghai area; he passed away in Shanghai. Wu Li was highly literate, capable at poetry and prose as well as good at musical instruments and arts. His works collected all the good qualities of different masters and were based on the theme of nature, especially famous for his landscape paintings. He was one of the “Six Masters of Qing”, together with Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Yuanqi, Wang Hui and Yun Shouping, having a profound influence on the history of Chinese art and the development of Chinese Catholicism.
This exhibition also features the masterpieces of Wu Li: Collection of the Shanghai Museum “Lake in Spring”, which was painted after Wu Li met François de Rougemont, his Jesuit’s mentor of Christian theology who had great impact on Wu Li’s religious thought, showing Wu’s unique styles of brush and ink. Moreover, his other piece Rolo vertical, tinta sobre papel is a tribute to the melancholy of his late friend Mu Rong, in which the Xingfu Temple is lonely and miserable, giving expression to the painter’s grief. The painting was completed during the important period in Wu Li’s conversation from Buddhism to Catholicism.
The exhibition “Beyond the Scenery: Exhibition Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Passing of Wu Li” is held from 8 September to 11 November. Admission is free. The Macao Museum of Art, located at Avenida Xian Xing Hai, NAPE. For enquiries, please contact MAM through tel. no. 8791 9814 during office hours.