BI-MONTHLY DISPATCHES FROM THE PARKVIEW MUSEUM SINGAPORE TEAM
When Landscapes Move and Sing
Minguo Landscape (2007) is a beautiful animated film by Chinese contemporary artist, Qiu Anxiong, alluding to China’s journey of transition from more than 2000 years of imperial rule to becoming a Republic. In this transition that sought to bring about stability and progress, the founding was nevertheless fraught with many difficulties, including being dominated by warlords, internal conflicts as well as foreign powers. Strife continued until the late 1920s to 1930s, where banking and currency systems were reformed, accessibility improved with the building of railways and highways, as well as improvements to public health resources and facilities and changes made to augment industrial and agricultural production.
Set against contemporary realities where today’s China continues to change, relentlessly pursue modernisation and progress economically and materially, Qiu Anxiong’s work, Minguo Landscape (2007) offers images of nostalgia, progress and loss over the passage of time in China’s landscapes—from imperial rule to Republic, followed by being invaded by Japan to life after that. Underlying this narrative belies a hint of apocalyptic pessimism of these changes, complemented and reflected in the medium of black Chinese ink, which bleeds and weeps in various instances in the film. In Qiu’s words, he expresses,
“In my memory, the Republic of China is black and white pictures, full of misery and war. Also, wine and roses, gifted scholars and beautiful ladies. History is made of stories written in our daydreams. Only the handwriting is real, not the stories themselves. The curvature of time will scatter the history we know into pieces that shine like crystal glass; pretty but untrue. The blossom of the Republic of China is buried under a mundane wave … As we stand at the end of the world today, we see the flourishing and the ruins. Trying to look for the pure landscape of the past, we can think only of how time passes.”
Qiu’s animation work processes requires him to paint each of his images onto a small canvas, where the paint can easily be wiped off partially or completely. This then allows the next image to be painted over the existing images. These images are then photographed and post-edited on computer using video editing software. In some sense, Qiu’s style and medium of Chinese calligraphy painting, his process of painting and wiping the images, followed by painting over poetically echo and emulate the very traditions, nostalgia and changes of China he records in his narrative—creating, erasing, replacing, (re)creating and recording.
This movement of history and how landscape is constantly (re)made in Qiu’s work is not merely recorded through his drawings, but accompanied by the music as well. At the beginning of Minguo Landscape, one is greeted by a man’s soulful singing. As the narrative proceeds, a new epoch seems to find a corresponding sound style. In the subsequent changes that happen across time, power changes and shifting ideologies, the soundscape grows to encompass more layers and contemporary styles of music and singing, even including trumpets that emulate the buzzing of bees.
As the organic and vast natural world constantly changes to give way and transform into a modern urban environment, the music similarly takes turns to emphasise on the different styles. Yet as one style takes on dominance, viewers can still hear the traces and contrapuntal tunes of the other styles, as if alluding to how in the passage of time forward, echoes of the past are entwined with the present, and that time does not quite belong wholly to one style/epoch. In the end, the presence and absences of these layers of music end up creating something new, yet familiar. The accompanying soundscape seems to sing of emotions of one facing changes—moving forward into the new, yet pining or looking for something of the old and once familiar all at once.
Perhaps all these underscore Qiu’s sentiments towards changes and the intimate yet complex relationships between notions of old and new—they are not quite antithetical to each other, nor do they demand or signify an erasure of their counterpart. Rather to Qiu, ‘the new and old extend each other, enhance each other and, in the end, constitute each other. The objects of the world are produced and extinguished in the continual flux of time. New things gestate in the belly of the old.’
In our own contemporary Singapore, the parallels of change and development, accompanied by losses and erasures are felt through the rapid transformations in our landscapes. Countless communities, (ancestral and biological) homes and land have disappeared to give way to the new. Nagging behind these changes lie questions and yearnings of what used to be there, and what was lost. Yet, where nostalgia has surfaced over the recent few years, there is little collective sense of fear, cautious optimism or discussion of the costs of this progress on various stratospheres of society. At the end of the day, if the new and old extend, enhance and even constitute each other, what parts of our (old)selves have we amputated, lost and not heard from? Who can we count on to record the sights and sounds of these losses for us? Who would create and sing songs that tell of our tenuous desires towards modernisation and loss? Who would also hear of these songs? After all, the shiny side of progress on the coin would continue to beckon and enamour us, while the underside of the coin bearing losses would most probably be erased and written over rapidly.
By Chieng Wei Shieng
THE HONG KONG PARKVIEW GROUP Ltd. (collectively, the “Group") of which Chyau Fwu Development, Parkview Museum Singapore and ATLAS are members, is saddened to announce that Mr. George Wong, Chairman of THE HONG KONG PARKVIEW GROUP, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 9.15 on the 2nd of December, 2017.
Mr. George Wong, our Group Chairman, had a truly global perspective on life. He was the standard-bearer for the Group’s mission of ‘people-oriented innovation’, and dedicated his career to pioneering it’s growth and development. Mr. Wong upheld the Group’s vision to ‘Create A Better Tomorrow’, and its commitment to innovative, unique design and sustainable principles, and its relentless pursuit of the perfection in the detail, to create iconic, landmark buildings.
Under his leadership, the Group was not only active in Asia, but also expanded throughout continental Europe, and remains committed to excellence, characterised by its global outlook. Demonstrated throughout his business activities, Mr. Wong was committed to environmental protection and was a leader of the city in the arts and culture. In 2012, Parkview Green FangCaoDi Beijing was born and with it he created a new standard for development in China's urban complex. It was the first comprehensive commercial building in China to receive the LEED® Platinum certfication.
Mr. Wong had a passion for art and art collections. He was a National Museum of China Research Fellow, the National Art Museum of China’s Chief International Consultant and a China Literature and Art Foundation Director. As one of the nation's leading collectors of contemporary art, Mr. Wong has been supporting the development of Chinese contemporary art and artists for decades, and as such, the National Museum of China did Mr. Wong the honour of specially appointing him as the first Research Fellow in Contemporary Art Collections.
IN MEMORY OF MR. GEORGE WONG
(1952 — 2017)
In recent years, Mr. Wong gave more time to philanthropic activities. He donated artwork to museums, galleries, universities and other institutions. His recipients include the China National Museum, China National Art Museum, Nanjing Arts Institute, Xiamen Jimei University and other public educational institutions. Mr. Wong believed that art of all creed and culture should be made accessible to the public, to literally touch and feel it, to drive discourse and challenge perception; that art is a vital part of a modern society’s education, and he had a responsibility to enable this conversation.
This expression reflected part of Mr. Wong’s deep concern about the education of the mainland. He also served as Executive Committee of Xiamen Jimei University, as Professor and Chairman of the Board of Nanjing University of Arts, and as the honorary Principal of Beijing Chenjinglun High School. He set up scholarships to fund the Children's Charity Foundation, to inspire students and support education.
Whilst Mr. Wong was a champion of the private-sector in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he also remembered rural residents with special needs. He took on multiple roles, as the Chief Consultant of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Executive Committee of the Jiangsu CPPCC, the standing committee of the city of Chaozhou Guangdong CPPCC, the Chairman of Wild Aid China, and the Culture Consultant of China Commission of Promotion of Publicity for the Undertakings of Chinese Disabled Persons to try and help address this.
Mr. Wong was committed to environmental protection, and became enthusiastically involved in activities that worked to protect wildlife. In 2014, in collaboration with Wild Aid and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Parkview Arts Action organised a contemporary art exhibition entitled "On Sharks & Humanity". The aim of the exhibition was to raise awareness of the importance of shark protection and to support the "Say No to Shark Fin" Campaign, whilst also raising awareness of the consequences of over-fishing, and the importance of maintaining the ecological balance of marine life.
"I never follow the rules. I’m the black sheep of the industry. It’s almost like the language of contemporary art. I try not to repeat what others have done and try to make a revolution,”
— George Wong (May 2017, The Peak)
This large-scale international art exhibition began at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, before moving on to the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation in Moscow for the second leg of the tour. Subsequently, it travelled to the National Museum of China, and was exhibited at the Parkview Museum Singapore. As Hong Kong celebrated its 20th anniversary as a special administrative region of China, the exhibition was also presented at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.
It is our misfortune to lose Mr. George Wong. His accomplishments in the society he inhabited with such vigour and enthusiasm is a legacy of which we are incredibly proud. We will, however, remember our Chairman as an extraordinary individual; a leader, a mentor, a friend and a father, whose sense of purpose and social responsibility touched everyone he crossed paths with on his larger-than-life journey. We will remember the joy and generosity with which he shared his life with those fortunate enough to have been around him. We thank him, and we will never forget.
ABOUT THE HONG KONG PARKVIEW GROUP Ltd.
The Group was established by the Hwang family in Taiwan in the 1950’s. The Group has upheld its ‘people-first’ philosophy; its commitment to innovative, unique design, and sustainable principles in its relentless pursuit of excellence in creating iconic landmark buildings for more than half a century. The Group is active in Asia continental Europe and is primarily focused on premium and luxury contemporary real estate and leisure industry development.
Mr. Wong inherited the Chairmanship from his father in 2003. He was born in 1952 in Hong Kong, but grew up in Taiwan, and completed his studies in the UK. His multicultural background gave Mr. Wong his unique perspective for The Hong Kong Parkview Group, and a deep understanding of the needs of his customers and visitors.
Parkview Group moved its headquarters to Hong Kong in the 1980s. The Hong Kong Parkview Group’s projects include Hong Kong Parkview, Parkview Square and Parkview Eclat, Singapore, Parkview Garden in Shanghai, Parkview Green in Beijing, Hotel Eclat Beijing and Taipei, the Taiwan Chyau-Fwu Corporation, and the Beauvallon Hotel in St Tropez. For further company information, please visit www.parkview.world