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Leonardo da Vinci. Art & Science Then & Now
City University of Hong Kong is proud to present 12 original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci from the Pinacoteca and Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, brought to Hong Kong for the first time to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. The drawings will be accompanied by five machines modelled on Leonardo’s designs, and by works of contemporary artists, most faculty at CityU’s School of Creative Media, reflecting Leonardo’s ongoing legacy and influence into the digital age.
Leonardo was a scientist, painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, mathematician, and even musician, but he was first and foremost a polymath inventor and creator. Whether looking at plants, musical harmonies, or elliptical curves of cannon balls, Leonardo was fascinated by the world around him, and devoted his life to exploring and transcribing it. His indiscriminate love for and exploration of the diversity of human and natural knowledge -- arts, humanities, sciences and technology -- earned him the name of a Renaissance man.
The most prolific artist of his time, Leonardo left behind over 6,000 drawings that reveal his scientific and creative mental world. Though Leonardo was revered as a painter during his lifetime, these thousands of sheets remained largely unknown before the 19th century (only his unfinished “Treatise on Painting” was published). Since then, however, his writings, overflowing with artistic, scientific, and technological inventions have become almost more famous than his artwork. They reveal a polymath whose prescient observations and scientific analyses seem to foreshadow later discoveries; one need only think of his flying machines, his perfect rendering of hydrodynamic water turbulence, and his industrial-age style machines (five models of which are also on display in the exhibition).
In tribute to Leonardo’s continuing influence, nine contemporary artists, seven from the CityU School of Creative Media (SCM), contributed artworks to the exhibition, imagining what Leonardo might have done in an era of digital media and virtual reality. Combining new and old media, the artists respond to his ideas on flight, movement, light, and the act of drawing itself. Their artwork, taken as a whole, forges a new nexus between art and science in the spirit not only of Leonardo but also of SCM, itself dedicated to the integration of art, science, and technology.