Inauguration of Exhibition “Beyond the Scenery: Exhibition Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Passing of Wu Li”

Date of publication: 07/09/2018
Type: Exhibition

Jointly organised by the Macao Museum of Art (MAM) of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Palace Museum, the Shanghai Museum, the Macao Government Tourism Office, the Macao Foundation, 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” was inaugurated on 7 September, at 6:30pm, on the 4th floor of MAM, and was officiated by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao S.A.R. Government, Alexis Tam Chon Weng; the Director of the Department of Publicity and Culture of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao S.A.R., Wan Sucheng; the Bishop of Diocese de Macau, Stephen Lee Bun Sang; the Deputy Director of the Palace Museum, Zhu Hongwen; the Deputy Director of the Shanghai Museum, Li Zhongmou; the Acting President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Leong Wai Man; the Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes; the President of the Administrative Committee of the Macao Foundation, Wu Zhiliang; the Acting Chief Editor of Macao Daily News, Choi Chi Tou; the Superior of the Companhia de Jesus SJ, Pe. Liu Chia Cheng, Beda; and the Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Tang Hing Sun, Sunny.

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 artistic style in a more comprehensive way.

Wu Li (1632-1718), with original name Qili and style name Yushan, was born in Changshu, Jiangshu province. He was one of the “Six Masters of the Qing” - also known as “Four Wangs, Wu and Yun” - together with Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Yuanqi, Wang Hui and Yun Shouping. For generations his family lived near the former residence of Confucius’ disciple Yan Yan (courtesy name Ziyou), and because there was a very deep well (mo jing) at Yan Yan’s home, Wu Li got the sobriquet “Mo Jing Dao Ren” (Deep Well Taoist). At a young age, Wu learned poetry with Qian Qianyi, and studied painting with Wang Jian and Wang Shimin. He dedicated himself to painting, painstakingly emulating originals from the Song and Yuan dynasties. Wu Li was adept in various fields, notably in painting. During the reign of emperor Kangxi, Wu Li came to Macao with Philippus Couplet (1624-1692), a Belgian Jesuit, to receive religious training at St. Paul’s College, where he occasionally recorded his life in his postscripts of paintings and poetry collection Sanba Ji (Poems from St. Paul's). Wu Li later returned to Jiangsu for missionary work, and was ordained in 1688. He started preaching in the Shanghai area. He passed away in Shanghai.

This exhibition also features the masterpieces of Wu Li: Collection of the Palace Museum “Figures and Stories”, the fifth leaves which describes the ancient story of Qu Yuan, a famous poet from the State of Chu during the Warring States Period, composing the poem Li Sao on the riverbank of the Miluo River (Traditions of Qu Yuan and Jia Yi). The album comprises eight leaves in total, depicting landscapes, figures, horses and carriages, processions and courtyards. The paintings are organised in various compositions and are perhaps the early works of Wu which he sold to support for his family. In addition, another piece Collection of the Shanghai Museum “Guqin gathering by the Fengxi River” - a long scroll painted in moist brushstrokes depicting the scene of Chen Min, Wu’s qin (a musical instrument) teacher when Wu was in his 20s, teaching qin playing techniques in Fengxi Thatched Hall amid the dreamy landscape outside the city of Suzhou.

The exhibition “Beyond the Scenery: Exhibition Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Passing of Wu Li” is held from 8 September to 11 November. The Macao Museum of Art, located at Avenida Xian Xing Hai, NAPE, and is open daily from 10am to 7pm, including public holidays (no admission after 6:30pm), and closes on Mondays. Admission is free. For more information, please visit the MAM website at or call through tel. no. 8791 9814 during opening hours.