a tribute to the world's cultural wealth, diversity, co-existence
and resilience, dating from the dawn of civilisation in China, my
native land, 5,000 years ago, I have created a commemorative scroll,
1.5 metres high and 201.5 metres long.
scroll, whether hung, held in hand or stretched horizontally, is
the quintessential art form of China which lends itself most appropriately
to artistic expression on such an ambitious scale.
On this gigantic scroll, executed on specially made English art
paper, I have painted a fluid and continuing vast image, representing
5,339 carp, combining the universal symbol of life - water - with
the East Asian icon of good fortune.
5000 follows on from my Hong Kong Fish Scroll, which
was exhibited in London in the days prior to the return of Hong
Kong to China, televised internationally*1
and written about in the media*2
and in a book on my work published in 1997*3.
That scroll featured 1,997 carp, marking the year of Hong Kong's
reunion with China.
have chosen the title Culture 5000 because the last five
millennia of human existence have been the most remarkable in cultural
and social development, fusion of peoples, races and languages.
Europe, for example, has never before in its history experienced
the richness of cultural interaction as it is experiencing today.
Culture 5000, therefore, is a tribute to this human experience,
a part and parcel of mutually rewarding peaceful co-existence, irrespective
of geographical boundaries.
scroll was designed to embody this concept and demonstrate my skills
in water colour painting, which represent a synthesis of artistic
practices developed by me over four decades. Now completed, the
scroll is an extraordinary work of art, indeed the first of its
kind ever executed in the history of art practice.
As those familiar with my work will know I have enjoyed painting
both in realistic and abstract styles. The giant painting represents
5,339 carp in vivid colours and in a multitude of movements and
"moods" - in a wide range of underwater settings, with the "concrete"
imagery of the fish interwoven with "abstract" background.
painting has been executed with a diffused focus, and from a vertical
perspective allows the viewer the opportunity to enjoy the giant
image in many different ways. This is essential to the ultimate
purpose of the project - to divide up the painting amongst the most
eminent collections of art worldwide.
Now complete the painting will be photographed and published in
an album setting out 100 self-contained segments, 1.5 metres high
and 2 metres wide, for distribution amongst individual and institutional
collectors. The album will contain an introduction by myself, the
artist, commentary articles by eminent curators and directors of
museums in Britain, China and other countries and a full acknowledgment
of all sponsors.
Culture 5000 scroll has the following features:
size - 1.5m x 201.5m - is the largest painting of its kind
executed anywhere in the world.
vast number - 5,339 colourful carp in a single painting
- is the first ever in the world's history of art.
enormous variety of colours and patterns which do not repeat
themselves in one painting of this scale has never before
been seen in the history of fine arts, embodying a new development
of water colour techniques.
gigantic painting will link the world's major museums in
one chain, a pioneering undertaking in the world of fine
whole painting maintains its integrity with no traces whatsoever
of being painted in sections.
part destined for segmentation is self-contained in both
image and form.
completion time of 8 months for a painting of this size
is the shortest ever - dignitaries were present to witness
the commencing and concluding ceremonies.
painting then will be exhibited in major cities around the world,
along with the album, to maximise publicity for the scroll.
The first of the 100 sections has been tentatively planned to be
kept at China's National Museum in Beijing and the last (100th)
section in a preeminent museum in Britain. This symbolises the cultural
bridge between China, my motherland, where I was born, brought up,
and educated, (and for which I have profound love, and to which
I have made my various contributions) and Great Britain, where
I have spent more than 30 years of my life absorbing the best of
the British fine arts as well as making my contributions as an artist.
In this sense this cultural and artistic bridge has every reason
to start from Beijing, the capital of China and extend to London,
the capital of Great Britain.
the remaining 98 sections, 78 are tentatively planned to be offered
for acquisition by principal museums around the world and 20 by
private collectors, through art galleries and auctions.
When the painting has finally been distributed amongst collectors,
another album will be published to include the details of the location
of each section.
Numerous British and Chinese television broadcasts.
- Eastern Art Report, South, Grimsby Evening Telegraph and
- Hai Shuet Yeung: Innovation In Abstraction, by Sajid Rizvi
with contributions by Dr. Anne Farrer, British Museum, and Professor
Li Gongmin, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Guanghou, China, published
by Saffron Books, P.O. Box 13666, London, SW14 8WF, UK.
images copyright ©2000 by Hai Shuet Yeung
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