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Monet’s masterpieces at HK’s Heritage Museum

01 June 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

If Claude Monet were around today, he would most likely be displaying in an exhibition of his works  an image of Lek Yuen Bridge arching slightly in a shroud of warm, light and dark colors across Shatin’s Shing Mun River.
The French painter called his style, introduced in 1860, as Impressionism, or the use of dabs and strokes of primary unmixed colors to simulate on canvas actual reflected light on natural objects.
The style soon became a movement that other masters such as Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir embraced as they broke away from the Realists of the era.
Now, art lovers in Hong Kong need not spend a fortune to travel to France and elsewhere in Europe to see one of the biggest collections of Monet’s paintings ever brought to the territory. The priceless art collection, all 17 masterpieces, can be viewed up close at the Heritage Museum in Shatin
Compared with at least $20,000 a Hong Kong individual spends on a trip to Paris to view the masterpieces at the Louvre, ticket prices at the Shatin museum starts at $5 for students, persons with disabilities and seniors on Wednesdays and $10 for adults.
On regular days the prices double. The museum is closed on Tuesdays
The exhibition, dubbed “The Spirit of Place –A Walk-through into the Art of Claude Monet,” opened on May 4 and ends on July 11
On display are the artist’s most emblematic and predominantly oil on canvas obras including Nymphéas, Break-Up of the Ice at Vétheuil, facing Lavacourt, Water Lilies, Effect of Spring, Giverny; Water Lily Pond in Giverny, and The Houses of Parliament, and Wisteria.
The works were his mental snapshots of the places around France and across Europe where he painted. Only one of them was done in pastel, a rarity in Monet’s time.
“His works explore all possible viewpoints, seasons and variations of the beautiful nature. Capturing the momentary effects of light, atmosphere and imperceptible details illuminating a landscape’s spirit, we can understand his appreciation of nature and his transformation from simple illustration of places to series of paintings and modern art in this exhibition,” said the Heritage Museum in its introduction to the exhibition.
Monet was inspired by the colors of nature, and he found these sources of great inspiration in his garden in Giverny, from which he had made scores of drawings and paintings. As he tended his garden, he came to discover its wealth.
“I must have flowers, always, and always,” he wrote in one essay about his works, saying his garden was his greatest masterpiece and “color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment” in another.
While doing his series on “The Houses of Parliament” in London, he used variations of bright and dark color combinations to capture different moments and moods on a single object. He said he “jotted down the colors I thought I could see in the water”.
The blending of mountains, greenery and modern civilization in Shatin, where the Shing Mun River cuts a watery path to Tolo Harbour, would have inspired the artist further were he alive today and lived next to nature. For his appetite for beauty was boundless.
“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it,” Monet had said.
For art lovers in the Filipino community in Hong Kong, here is a once in a lifetime opportunity to savor some of the genius’ paintings and be a part of his beautiful world.
And for a price just half of a Café de Coral lunchbox, the gallery also offers guests free entry to the Bruce Lee museum and an exhibit of ancient Chinese ceramics, many of which date back to the Han dynasty in the second century.

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