Giuseppe Castiglione and innovation
The high-calibre new media exhibition featuring an Italian Jesuit artist Giuseppe Castiglione, also known as Lang Shining, is a rarity on a university campus in Hong Kong.
Before the opening ceremony, Director Feng Ming-chu of the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei, CityU's collaborator in putting on the exhibition, delivered an inspiring talk about the artist's life and paintings as well as his influence on Chinese art history.
The talk made me realise that for CityU, the most memorable point is that Castiglione's creative explorations in cross-cultural art align with the spirit of discovery and innovation that is so highly regarded at CityU, and also with our commitment to the integration of teaching and research.
Castiglione was already an accomplished artist when he arrived in China more than 300 years ago. Instead of confining himself to artistic styles and techniques from Western traditions, he created a new aesthetic that blended Western techniques of shading and atmospheric perspective with China's traditional methods and taste.
His artistic style greatly influenced the development of Chinese art, and his exquisite masterpieces have had a lasting value, commanding appreciation from three Qing emperors, as well as the admiration of the public today in China. I hope his work will be better recognised in his home country of Italy in particular and among wider audiences in the West.
CityU is quickly building a reputation for collaborations in integrating art and the latest in electronic technology. The partnership between CityU and the NPM follows on from our highly successful collaboration between CityU, the Dunhuang Academy and the Friends of Dunhuang (Hong Kong) a couple of years ago titled Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang. As with the Castiglione exhibition, Pure Land allowed viewers to travel back in time to appreciate art in a highly interactive environment.
Visitors to the Castiglione exhibition can't help but be impressed by the astounding achievements in cultural heritage and new technology. The success of the exhibition proves once again that in addition to hardware and software, we need "soulware" if we want to accomplish anything, especially something new. Castiglione's artworks and the new interactive installations can be likened to the hardware, while the design team's innovative designs and technical support can be regarded as software.
But what is also needed is a willingness on the part of both partners to turn the dream into reality— through soulware.
NPM, a leading museum in the world, selected CityU as its collaborating partner instead of other universities not only because we have first-class hardware and software, but also because we have first-class soulware, i.e., a commitment to make things happen.
It is amazing what you can achieve through collaboration. At a recent event I ran a quick experiment. I asked the participants to re-assemble a piece of paper that had been torn into about 40 pieces. After about half an hour, no-one had finished the task except for colleagues and friends from NPM and CityU.
How come they managed to complete the puzzle in just a few minutes? On the back of the paper was a print of a Castiglione painting.
3 June, 2016