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Royal Ontario Museum presents Small Skills, Special Effects. Unusual Chinese Works of Art

Royal Ontario Museum presents Small Skills, Special Effects: Unusual Chinese Works of Art, an exhibition on view from July 28, 2012 to February 3, 2013, featuring items from the ROM’s own Far Eastern, Textiles and Costume collections; loans from three private collections; and an item from the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library of the University of Toronto. The exhibition will be featured in the Herman Herzog Levy Gallery.

Manchu woman headdress. Brass, silk, kingfisher feathers, glass, semi-precious stones, China, Qing dynasty, late 19th century © ROM.

Consisting of approximately 70 objects dating from the Tang dynasty (618-907) to the early 21st century, Small Skills, Special Effects includes a range of rare or never before displayed objects such as paintings, fans, vessels, snuff bottles, objects of personal adornment, and amulets. These artifacts were made from a wide variety of materials such as paper, ceramic, wood, lacquer, bamboo, glass, silver, and metal alloy. They are the works of talented and dedicated Chinese artists, designers, and craftspersons who endeavoured to make their beautiful and unique creations stand out by imbuing them with a remarkable level of expert craftsmanship through design, technique, or the actual materials used.

Small Skills, Special Effects demonstrates ingenuity and extraordinary skill as featured in a wide variety of objects from a range of collections, each displaying an amazing element of energy, planning, and concentrated execution. These objects represent the artistic, economic, social, political, and religious factors influencing the chosen designs, materials, and methods of production.

As a showcase of an important aspect of the timeless artistic contribution to Chinese culture, Small Skills, Special Effects provides a rare look at objects which became renowned based on the three principles of extraordinary design, unusual technique, and rare materials. The exhibit consists of nine main components – intricately carved ivory objects, paintings with motifs embedded with meaningful messages, micro-calligraphy, finger paintings, objects adorned with an unusual design composed of fragmentary documents, folding fans, trompe l’oeil objects, various items created with kingfisher feathers, and specially designed silver amulets.

Representations of the god of longevity are a very popular theme of Chinese art. Selected objects Small Skills, Special Effects feature unique interpretations of this as created by artist Wan Shouqi, who used miniscule Chinese characters to form a large image of this deity.

100 Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON, M5S 2C6

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