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Distributed for HKU Museum and Art Gallery

The Enchanting Art of Paper-cutting

Switzerland and Foshan, China

The art of paper-cutting originated in China. Its easy mastery requiring only simple tools such as scissors or cutters made it a popular craft among amateur artists. Paper-cuts were produced to decorate windows, walls, ceilings and doors during the Chinese New Year and for wedding ceremonies to enhance the festive atmosphere. The art of paper-cutting was transmitted to the West via Indonesia, Persia and the Balkans during the seventeenth century. Paper-cuts are principally two-dimensional visual representations made using scissor-cutting, carving, chiselling and printing, covering a wide variety of themes. The major subject matter of both Eastern and Western are countryside scenes herding sheep and cattle, working in the fields, as well as plants, fruits, birds and animals in nature. Chinese paper-cuts also include other themes such as auspicious subjects, legends and operatic characters. Nowadays the art of paper-cutting has evolved from traditional folk art into an art form in its own right. By developing the art of paper-cutting in new directions, Swiss and Chinese artists have introduced cutting techniques to achieve new forms of artistic expression, combining tradition and modernity. This catalogue features 45 paper-cuts by anonymous artists and ten contemporary Chinese artists from Foshan, Guangdong province, and 55 recent paper-cuts by fifteen contemporary Swiss artists. The Chinese exhibits can be divided into three categories dating to the late Qing/early Republican period, the Cultural Revolution and Modern period. The Swiss paper-cuts, on the other hand, are all recent works by contemporary artists. These exhibits not only express strong local characteristics but also demonstrate the artistic achievements of paper-cutting in both the East and West.

180 pages | illustrations throughout | 9 x 12

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