Arts

The Dajia Mazu's litter arrives at a small temple in Xingang, Chiayi, allowing locals to pay their respects and celebrate the sea goddess’ birthday. (SPH Media)

Taiwanese art historian: The joy of sharing food in old Taiwan

Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun reminisces about the good old days of simple food and heartfelt folk religious festivals, where regular households threw banquets and opened their doors to friends and strangers. It is in those vignettes of daily life that all of Taiwan’s generosity, harmony, magnanimity and acceptance are on display.
A woman buys pork at a market in Taipei, Taiwan, 4 August 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Remembering Mother's cleaver in the 'Palace of Versailles kitchen'

Amid the grandeur of his friend’s deluxe kitchen, Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun remembers his mother, a skilled cook. With simple tools and deft hands, she whipped up artisanal meals worthy of many a great restaurant.
Traditional Chinese dancers in full costume. (iStock)

How the Chinese learned dance and music before there was YouTube or TikTok

Former journalist Lim Jen Erh reflects on two boxes of old books he chanced upon, containing dance manuals and guqin scores. Before the advent of technology, these old volumes were the only way to pass on such knowledge and instructions, which makes them invaluable today.
A still from the movie Return to Dust, with Wu Renlin (left) and Hai Qing in the lead roles. (Internet)

Can China's movies depict poverty and the ugliness of society?

The movie Return to Dust depicts the difficult circumstances of a rural couple in China. Despite the high ratings and box office takings, some detractors say that the film feeds Western stereotypes of rural Chinese. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at whether the movie panders to Western tastes, and whether it invalidates China’s efforts at poverty alleviation.
Showcasing rare masterpieces of Chinese ink, the Xiu Hai Lou Collection includes breathtaking pieces by major artists such as Ren Bonian, Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong and Zhang Daqian. (National Gallery Singapore)

Singapore’s Xiu Hai Lou Collection and what it tells us about late 19th-20th century Chinese art

Private collector Yeo Khee Lim (1917-1998) amassed one of the earliest and most comprehensive collections of late 19th-20th century Chinese art since he started collecting them in the 1940s and 50s. The stories in the collection — of literati painters, the Shanghai School, the Lingnan School, the Teochews and the Nanyang painters who passed through and lived on our shores — have been told before in exhibitions put up by Yeo himself and later by the National Gallery and others. But in a recent NTU conference on the life of Yeo Khee Lim, the importance of the prized collection comes back to the fore.
Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun conducting the New York Philharmonic during a Chinese New Year concert held at the David Geffen Hall in New York, US, on 6 February 2019. (Photo: Chris Lee)

Building bridges through music: A young Singaporean conductor leads the way

Lee Huay Leng was touched by the live broadcast of a concert in the park put up by the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra with Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun at the helm and Singapore Chinese Orchestra musicians taking part. Chinese instruments found their place in Wong’s arrangement of 19th century Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. In the aftermath of Covid and an international milieu where politics meddles even in the arts, the young Wong had found a way to stay composed and build a bridge with music. Can countries learn to do the same?
The woodcut of a satay seller at work, given to the writer. (Lim Jen Erh)

The stories behind the woodcuts

A gift from a friend prompts former journalist Lim Jen Erh to think about the stories behind the scenes depicted in woodcuts, from simple days in school to the final days of the tongkangs on the Singapore River, and the artform that can be traced back to China, especially the modern woodcut illustration movement led by literary giant Lu Xun in the 1930s.
A student of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), 1998. (SPH Media)

What is Nanyang art?

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre CEO Low Sze Wee traces the origins of Nanyang art, the shaping of the identity of the “Nanyang artists” through the years, and the relevance of this movement to Singapore’s art history.
Chinese textbook illustrations have come under fire.

Suggestive Chinese textbook illustrations: An infiltration by the West?

Recently, there has been an uproar in China over illustrations in school textbooks, with comments that the characters drawn are “ugly”, with some depicted in suggestive poses and wearing questionable designs on clothing. Is this merely a question of aesthetics, or does the problem go deeper? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks into the issue.