CityU holds Hong Kong’s 1st exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s original works

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On the 500th anniversary of the death of the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) Exhibition Gallery is pleased to present “Leonardo da Vinci: Art & Science. Then & Now” from 20 September to 15 December 2019 in collaboration with the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.

The exhibition will feature for the first time in Hong Kong 12 original da Vinci drawings and showcase his machine models and a replica of one of his famous painting. The School of Creative Media (SCM) faculty members reveal how Leonardo’s legacy lives on in their creative works that also merge the arts and sciences.

Da Vinci is considered one of the history’s greatest minds. Known as the “Master of Renaissance”, he was a scientist, painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, mathematician, and even a musician.

Officiating at the opening ceremony on 19 September were Dr Chung Shui-ming, CityU Pro-chancellor, Mr Lester Garson Huang, CityU Council Chairman, Professor Way Kuo, CityU President, Mr Clemente Contestabile, Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong & Macau, Professor Alberto Rocca, Director of Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, and Dr Isabelle Frank, Director of the CityU Exhibition Gallery. More than 200 guests attended the ceremony.

In his welcome remarks, Professor Kuo said this year marked the 500th celebration of the great man’s passing, and coincides with CityU’s 25th anniversary as university. “Leonardo da Vinci is hugely relevant to today, especially in areas close to CityU’s heart: bridging the arts and sciences; imagining new technologies; looking at life with fresh eyes.”

Mr Contestabile expressed his gratitude to CityU for making his idea of holding a da Vinci exhibition proposed a year ago happen within such a short time. Professor Rocca said the exhibition was a union of east and west, as well as past and present. He said, “Da Vinci’s 500-year-old works have been inspiring our present and future time, and are presented by the beautiful works created by the artists and scientists of CityU in this exhibition.”

Dr Frank said, “Through an appreciation of these original works, we can experience the determination of the Master of Renaissance to bring aesthetics and art value into science research.”

The 12 original drawings on display are from the Codex Atlanticus, the largest of the surviving da Vinci notebooks, from the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan. The drawings have been categorised into three areas to highlight the outstanding range of da Vinci’s theoretical work:

“Mathematics, Geometry and Art”: These drawings illustrate da Vinci’s studies of geometric/ mathematical problems, of which the “Ludo Geometrico” remains the most spectacular and complex decorative image of the entire Codex.

“Science, Optics and Flight”: The “Studies for a Flying Machine”, one of da Vinci’s very early studies, bears witness to his astounding scientific imagination, which was a catalyst for much future science research. 

“The Art of War”: The “Multiple Cannon Mechanisms; Study for Multi-barrelled Springald” shows da Vinci’s studies on cannon mechanisms, which were more practical than earlier inventions.

The exhibition also features five physical models based on da Vinci’s original manuscripts of military engineering projects and practical machines. The exhibition also features a replica of his original Virgin of the Rocks.

To pay tribute to Leonardo, nine contemporary artists, mainly faculty members from SCM of CityU, have combined new and traditional media to create a number of artworks that echo the artistic heritage of da Vinci’s works. The augmented reality interactive installation designed by Professor Jeffrey Shaw and Professor Sarah Kenderdine allows visitors to explore the space that da Vinci portrayed in Virgin of the Rocks.

The “Leonardo da Vinci: Art & Science, Then & Now” exhibition, presented by the CityU Exhibition Gallery and the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, has been organised by the Italian Cultural Institute in Hong Kong, Consulate General of Italy in Hong Kong and Istituto Italo Cinese in collaboration with the ITALIA MIA.

The event is supported by Vivere all'Italiana, Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao, Marco Polo Society, J.P. Morgan, and Armani.

“Leonardo da Vinci: Art & Science. Then & Now” Exhibition

Date: From 20 September to 15 December 2019 (closes on Monday)
Time: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (Free entrance)
Venue: Room 19-211, Lau Ming Wai Academic Building, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon
Admission: Free of charge

Media enquiry:
Kenix Wong, Communications and Public Relations Office, CityU (Tel: 3442 5228 or 9753 9505)


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