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Exhibits promote understanding, admiration

By Wang Linyan in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-10-25 01:17
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A detail from Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies, which is on display at the British Museum until mid-November. [Photo/THE TRUSTEES OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM]

Ancient Chinese paintings offer an insight into the past, Wang Linyan reports in London.

Yu-ping Luk believes a good exhibition must consider both conceptual and practical issues.

On the conceptual side, a curator must understand objects and have a clear idea of what is being expressed, says Luk, the curator in charge of Chinese paintings and prints and Central Asian collection at the British Museum in London, England.

On the practical side, a curator has to consider available space, the condition of work, and resources available. It is about creating and presenting a vision and concept through a limited set of circumstances.

"In my experience, mostly at the British Museum, there is a strong emphasis on research as the foundation," Luk says. "So, the exhibitions tend to take a long time to prepare, at least three years. But you want to do the research and have something new to say through exhibition. That's the model that the British Museum tends to follow."

Luk uses as an example the October 2022 display of Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies, which she curated.

The scroll is on display now at the museum until Nov 15 with two paintings by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983).

The Admonition Scroll Gallery, where the painting is kept on a long-term basis, features a case made especially for it, so that part of the exhibition was fixed.

"So it's really about thinking about other stories that you can tell, aspects of the scroll you can draw out through its connection or combination with other paintings that you show with it," she says. "In this case, with the display of Fu Baoshi works (last year), we were able to highlight the legacy of the culture into the 20th century."

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