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Millennium Art Exhibition

Forward to the Cang Cheng Art Studio Faculty and Student Millennium Art Exhibition

On 17 March this year, the provisional Urban Council of Macau organized a “Master Szeto Qi Retrospective Art Exhibition” for my late father, Szeto Qi (alias Cang Cheng) at the City Hall. My father’s close friend and fellow student, Master Guan Shan-yue, came to Macau from Guangzhou to be the honored guest presiding over the event, along with my late father’s good friend, Dr Chui Tak Kei. Also present were Mr Ma Kam Keung, Minister of Health and Culture, and Mr Mak Kin Chi, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Urban Council. I also invited more than fifty artists, fellow students of the Cang Cheng School and students of the Cang Cheng Art Studio to go to Macau together on that day and participate in the opening ceremony. Many dignitaries and guests were gathered, and their words of praise were unanimous. It was indeed a spectacular event. After the opening ceremony, the disciples of the Cang Cheng School and their students respectfully invited Master Guan, Mr Guan Yi, Master Lin Jin, Master Poet Tong Lap Cheong, Mr Yu Kwan Wai, Principal Au Gin Ron, Mr & Mrs Lai Ming, Mr Zhau Min Fung, Mr & Mrs S.W. Yam; Mr Zhou Hung, Mr Gin Hung, Mr Chow Bai Yuen; and Mr Chan Guai Chong and his brother Chan Chi Lek to have dinner together. It was an exciting and enjoyable evening, and a most memorable one.

The next day, the Provisional Urban Council of Macau sent a special vehicle to take Master Guan and his daughter Ms Guan Yi on a tour of Macau. They were accompanied by Master Lin Jin, Mr & Mrs Lai Ming, and Mr Chang Fung Lam. Mr Mak Wing, my wife, April, and me, together with our daughter, Andrea, also along with them.

This was the second time that Master Guan Shan-yue had seen the Pu Ji Buddhist Monastery, and this time it happened during the period when Macau was being returned to the Motherland. Master Guan could not help but he reminded of the time during the Second World War when he and my late father, along with fellow students of the Chun Shui Art Studio, stayed in Macau in order to be at the side of their teacher, Master Gao Jian-fu. He also remembered the poetic exchanges he had had with Great Master Hui Yin. Moved by these memories, he penned a qijue poem:

“The sacred soil of Macau and I have a destiny dating back to the past.

I remember during war time when I took refuge in the Monastery.

Using my painting brush as a weapon, I fought against the Japanese.

This time, upon my return, Macau has seen the dawn of a new day with its reunion with the Motherland.”

Later, uncle Tong Lap Cheong, Master Poet, responded with a poem having a similar theme:

“The difficult times of the past had their own fate.

The millennium is ushering in an auspicious year.

During the war, you used your painting brush like a sword to save the nation.

Now, when we look up, our country’s future is as bright as a cloudless day.”

Master Lin Jin also wrote a poem in the same vein:

“Destiny reigns-You once considered becoming a monk, but eventually decided against it.

You wielded your painting brush like a weapon when our nation was at war.

Today, at the age of 88, you return to Macau with memories of your teacher and friends.

The future which now dawns for Macau is as beautiful as a spring day.”

After several days of such precious time together, Master Guan finally returned to Guangzhou.

Reluctantly, I said good-bye to my beloved 88-year-old Master and Ms Guan Yi. I thanked them for

coming to Macau especially to preside over the opening ceremony of my late father’s retrospective

art exhibition. The following evening, my family and I also returned to Hong Kong.

On the morning of 4 July, the Guangzhou Art Institute announced the sad news. Master Guan Shan-yue

had passed away at 5 p.m. o 3 July. When I heard this, I was overcome by extreme grief. I

remembered all the blessings I had received from my teacher, Master Guan, and I remembered the

friendship Master Guan had shared with my late father in the early days when they were fellow

students together. Once, during the war, Master Guan came to my hometown of Kaiping and did 13

paintings for my late grandfather, Szeto Dong Gao. I remembered that time in June 1994, when the

Memorial Museum of Lingnan School in Guangzhou organized a “Three Chun Shui Grand Masters” Art

Exhibition, and my late father went to the grand opening together with Master Guan, and Master Li

Xiong Cai. I also recalled how Master Guan came to my two exhibitions held in Vancouver, Canada,

and at the Guangzhou Art Institute respectively, and how he lovingly and carefully gave me guidance

and encouragement. One after another, these scenes of the past kept running through my mind, and

the tears flowed from my eyes.

Master Guan’s passing was a tremendous loss to the nation, to our people, and to the art world.

Time goes by so swiftly and, in such a brief period, both my late father and Master Guan have passed

away. Now, in the darkness of the night, when I sit by the window and contemplate these two events,

I am filled with sadness. Therefore, I have adopted the original theme of the poem written by

Master Guan during his visit to Macau, and have composed a poem to express my sorrow:

“My becoming a student of yours, Master Guan, must have its own destiny.

I still recall vividly the times I spent with you.

That farewell in Macau has turned out to be our last.

Reluctantly, I can only cry my heart out, looking skyward to send my grief.”

For the current Cang Cheng Art Studio Faculty and Student Millennium Art Exhibition, the students

have suggested that they collectively publish a selection of paintings, to commemorate the occasion,

and they wanted me to write the foreword. Moved by my students’ devotion to Art and their spirit of

learning, I have remembered the past deeds of our elders and forefathers I this foreword. I

sincerely hope that all my students will learn from the example of our elders in their respect for

their teachers, their dedication to Art, and in the esteem they share among themselves, so that they

will be able to support and learn from one another, to honor their profession and to love their

community. They need to cherish this destiny, this connection forged by our artistic pursuits,

which has been hard-won and is so precious. I also hope that the vanguards of the art world will

give them generous guidance, to assist with their further development and address their

shortcomings.

Finally, it is my hope that the students of the Cang Cheng Art Studio will continue the traditions

of the past while forging a new path for the future, integrating the consciousness of the

contemporary time to create a fresh momentum allowing them to contribute to culture and to art.

Nigel Szeto

21 November, 2000

Hong Kong