To celebrate the University of Hong Kong Museum Society’s 25th anniversary, and the University Museum and Art Gallery’s 60th anniversary, the Museum is pleased to present an exhibition of twentieth-century Chinese art from the collection of Khoan and Michael Sullivan.
Professor Michael Sullivan is a pioneer of modern Chinese art history. He began his unique engagement with the art and artists of China while working at the West China Union University in Chengdu in the 1940s. Here he and his late wife Khoan (Wu Huan) developed friendships with many artists and intellectuals who sought refuge from the instability of war. Khoan and Michael began collecting art here in the mid-1940s.
The Sullivan collection is inseparable from the relationships that underlie it, as well as the circumstances of the artists through the civil war, the Great Leap Forward (1958) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Many of the works were gifted to Khoan and Michael by the artists themselves, and in 1960 their good friend, Geoffrey Hedley, a British diplomat in China, bequeathed his collection to them, which included works by masters such as Fu Baoshi, Ren Bonian, and Walasse Ting among many others. The Sullivans began to travel again to China in the 1970s and were able to renew their earlier friendships with artists after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Inspired by the new forms of art being produced in China, Khoan and Michael began to actively acquire art. During this time, they also became acquainted with the modern art movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong, represented by artists such as Liu Guosong, and Lü Shoukun.
This exhibition will be the first time that the Sullivan collection has been shown in Hong Kong and is held to honour Professor Sullivan’s considerable contributions as a pioneer of Chinese art history and especially the study of twentieth-century Chinese painting. The collection features in particular works that explore the relationships between western and Chinese media and expressions. Among the exhibits will be paintings by artists such as Wu Guanzhong, Huang Yongyu, Pang Xunqin, Wu Zuoren, Zhang Daqian, Qi Baishi, Zao Wuji, and Lü Shoukun; sculptors Zhu Ming and Wang Keping, as well as Hong Kong artists Wan Qingli, Chu Hing-wah, Wucius Wong, Tan Zhicheng and Nancy Chu Woo. The selection also includes two albums that were created and gifted to the Sullivans by artists in Hong Kong