The aesthetics of Suzhou Gardens

Shuyee Chen

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The classic Chinese garden is the subject of a rare exhibition presented at CityU Gallery from 15 January to 6 March. “Piled Rocks and Dredged Waters: The Art of Suzhou Gardens,” jointly organized by CityU’s Chinese Civilisation Centre (CCIV) and the Suzhou HYWH Cultural Development Company, offers students and the public a taste of the aesthetics of the renowned Suzhou Gardens.  

“Although we are not able to present the SuzhouGardens in a three-dimensional setting, we hope that the audience will be inspired to imagine the beauty and the aesthetics of those unique Chinese gardens through the mostly two-dimensional exhibits,” said Professor Cheng Pei-kai, Director of the CCIV, officiating at the opening ceremony, 14 January. 

The exhibition displays about 90 pictures, along with calligraphy and writing, and two specially created miniature gardens: The Humble Administrator’s Garden and The Lingering Garden. Most of the exhibits were framed in specially made, Suzhou-style decorative wooden frames

used for doors and windows, leading the audience into the world of the SuzhouGardens. “Every tourist is impressed by the delicate carving on the doors and windows of Suzhou houses,” said Mr Du Ming, another officiating guest and Artistic Director of the Suzhou HYWH Culture Development Company. “Along with the photos and architectural models, we hope our framing work will also arouse the audience’s interest in Suzhou architecture.”   

The construction of Suzhou gardens combines architecture, rocks and water, greenery, carvings, calligraphy and paintings.  It integrates the humanities and nature and fully demonstrates

the aesthetics of Chinese gardens. Among the more than 30 Suzhou gardens built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, nine of them are listed as World Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “SuzhouGardens are the most brilliant among the still-existing ancient Chinese gardens,” said Professor Cheng. “They reflect the traditional Chinese intellectual’s philosophy and aesthetics. They are also closely related to Chinese poetry and paintings.” He hopes the exhibition will provide a good opportunity for the more than 2,000 students who enrolled in CCIV courses this year to learn about Chinese aesthetics and philosophy.

To help students and the public better understand the art of SuzhouGardens, the CCIV also launched Piled Rocks and Dredged Waters: The Art of Suzhou Gardens, a book compiled by CCIV teachers. 

Professor Lung Ping-yee, another officiating guest and the Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong, encouraged the audience to visit Suzhou to experience the SuzhouGarden’s magic firsthand.

The exhibition is open to the public from to daily.


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