• Art & Culture
Historic papers reveal personal insights of 20th century Tsinghua intellectuals

Terry Lam
 
(From left) Professor Shaw, Dr Frank, Professor Jen, Professor Lam, Professor Kuo, Professor Han, Professor Du and Professor Fan officiate at the opening ceremony.

The private thoughts of some of China’s greatest scholars of the twentieth century are revealed at a new exhibition titled “Sincerely Yours: Personal Letters of Tsinghua Scholars” held at City University of Hong Kong (CityU).

On show are some 134 unpublished letters, manuscripts, and teaching materials that were hand-written by the likes of Tsinghua scholars Liang Qichao, Wang Guowei, Chen Yinque, Zhao Yuanren, Hua Luogeng, Hu Shih, Wen Yiduo, among others.

Enriching the exhibition are several new media installations developed by CityU’s School of Creative Media (SCM) that offer fresh perspectives on the displays, while providing interactive experiences for the visitors.

 
The hanging scrolls by Liang Qichao are among the unpublished handwritten materials at the exhibition.

The materials, on loan from Tsinghua University in Beijing, provide keen insight into the intellectual development of China during the first half of the twentieth century. The public can appreciate the scholars’ contributions to different branches of the arts and sciences as they read the transcribed letters of the exhibition.

“It is our great honour to have this exhibition from Tsinghua, illustrating the important history of Tsinghua scholars and their contribution to society and the country. I would like to take the chance to thank SCM for combining arts, new media technology and history to present to audiences a spectacular exhibition,” said Professor Way Kuo, CityU President, at the opening ceremony on 8 September.

Other officiating guests included: Professor Han Jingyang, Vice-Chairperson of the University Council, Tsinghua University; Professor Du Pengfei, Deputy Executive Director, Tsinghua University Art Museum; Professor Fan Baolong, Director of the Museum of the History of Tsinghua University and of the Tsinghua University Archives; Professor Alex Jen Kwan-yue, Provost of CityU; Professor Paul Lam Kwan-sing, CityU Chief-of-Staff (Vice-President); Professor Jeffrey Shaw, Chair Professor of SCM; and Dr Isabelle Frank, Director of the CityU Exhibition Gallery. 

 
A discussion between Tsinghua teachers and students, with Zhou Peiyuan (second from left), Sun Liren (third from left), and Liang Sicheng with glasses (far right).

“We would like to thank CityU for providing such a great opportunity to showcase the letters of 130 famous scholars and graduates of Tsinghua University. This is also the first time for putting together so many precious manuscripts in a single exhibition in Hong Kong,” said Professor Han.

Professor Du added that it was the first anniversary of Tsinghua University Art Museum, making the exhibition even more meaningful. “Each exhibit reflects the mastery of the writers, each of whom we respect greatly, cherishing their contributions in propelling the development of society.”

Through the interactive artwork Get Inspired by Tsinghua Scholars, produced by CityU’s SCM, visitors can create their own letters using the hand-written words of Jiang Lifu, Liang Sicheng, Wu Jinding and Tang Peisong. Another installation, New Media and the Art of Chinese Calligraphy, presents a calligraphy performance by the artist Professor Wang Dongling. A tiny video camera attached to a brush provides an immersive close-up of the dynamic creation of each of the painted characters.

The exhibition runs from 9 September to 5 November (open 10am to 7pm ; closed on Mondays) at CityU Exhibition Gallery, 18/F Lau Ming Wai Academic Building. Admission is free. Please visit the exhibition website (http://www.cityu.edu.hk/thletters/ ) for details.