This massive digital reproduction of Qing Ming Shang He Tu doesn’t merely replicate a famed work of art; it refreshes and reinvents the way you’ll look at the classic Chinese painting.

Opening on December 7 at the Singapore Expo Hall 3, A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty as Living Art brings the much-lauded digital painting of Qing Ming Shang He Tu to Singapore.

The best part? With seven different audio guides recorded in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Melayu, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese, this is one art installation made to cater to viewers of varied ages and backgrounds. You can even download the exhibition’s ‘Living Legend’ app from iTunes for a truly tech-savvy experience of the Chinese painting.

Digital painting of Qing Ming Shang He Tu: Day scenes at Singapore Expo

See the famed Chinese painting Qing Ming Shang He Tu anew at
A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty as Living Art

Seen by over 10 million visitors in past exhibitions at Shanghai, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, this digital painting was first exhibited at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

The sheer size of this immense animated painting is a sight to behold. Displayed on screen with the help of 12 projectors, the digital painting magnifies every brushstroke 30 times its original size; and this is only the start of its awe-inducing feats.

Featuring more than 1,068 moving characters, this ambitious animated art installation livens up the famed Chinese ink scroll painting Qing Ming Shang He Tu by depicting scenes from dawn to nightfall.

See unobtrusive transitions as scenes in the day fade in and out from warm hues to cool blue tones. In short, life in the Song Dynasty, seen through a day in this detailed digital rendition. The animators have also added energetic characters of their creation to this digital canvas; keep your eyes peeled for a boy in red chasing a pig around town.

Closeup photo of original painting at Singapore Expo Digital painting of Qing Ming Shang He Tu at Singapore Expo

A close-up photo of the original painting and the digital reproduction at the exhibition

While the actual painting was painted with dark ink on silk, the additions of colour and animation in this digital recreation makes every detail on Qing Ming Shang He Tu more vivid and vibrant, while preserving the integrity of the original work.

For all its digital feats, viewers could still step back and admire the art installation as a faithful reproduction of the original work; it’s clear that much care has been taken to reproduce every brushstroke painted on the famed Song Dynasty painting.

The animated movements on screen are fairly non-intrusive as characters move leisurely through the Song Dynasty capital city of Bianjing, much like the slow ebbing of a gentle river stream.

Street Scene in Qing Ming Shang He TuYou’ll also be able to draw a quick comparison of the digital piece and the ink painting.

On the wall located close to the exit, a printed replica of the Qing Ming Shang He Tu is furnished with a short explanation on the masterpiece.

Painted by Zhang Ze Duan, an imperial artist of the Song Dynasty, Qing Ming Shang He Tu is a classic hand scroll painting housed at the Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, Beijing, and is rarely ever displayed to the public.

It depicts the daily life of people during the Song Dynasty, during the Qingming; the Chinese tomb sweeping period.

Numerous replicas of this painting have been made throughout the ages, each adding inflections of its contemporary period to their work.

Unsure of where to start? The audio guide discusses the massive painting section by section, with detailed and easy-to-understand explanations.

In the style of the traditional ink painting, visitors are encouraged to view the art installation from right to left. Start with rustic rural sights of thatched roofs and a man leading his line of donkeys, before shifting your attention to the busy activity in the city.

Closeup of river stream at A Moving Masterpiece River stream at 'A Moving Masterpiece', Singapore Expo

The ‘water ripple’ area at the exhibit and a photo taken at a past exhibition in China

To complement the bustling scenes on the large screen, the exhibition separates viewers from the art installation with a ‘water ripple’ area; a three-metre replica stone bed, complete with digital ripples and a simulated river stream. It may sound like a gimmicky move but this trick does help to enhance the riverside atmosphere of this digital painting.

While the animated Qing Ming Shang He Tu is the centrepiece of this art event, “A Moving Masterpiece” at Singapore Expo also includes an informative exhibition on the Song Dynasty, complete with replicas of artifacts from the period.

There’s also a large gift souvenir section and food fair at the end of the exhibition; try yummy local favourites like the Kong ba pao (braised pork bun) and other snacks amongst red lanterns.

As a crowd control measure at this event, the entire event has been ticketed as an hour-long “show”; visitors enter in groups to view the digital painting and the Song Dynasty exhibition, according to the scheduled time slot on their tickets.

Digital painting of Qing Ming Shang He Tu at Singapore Expo Night scene: digital painting of Qing Ming Shang He Tu at Singapore Expo

A section of the massive art installation and the night scenes in this digital painting

Be the first to see the exhibition this week and you’ll get to enjoy a $10 discount on adult ticket prices; visitors can purchase tickets to the exhibition at Singapore Expo’s ticketing booth for just $11 nett from December 7 to 9.

Yu Zheng, the creative director of this art installation, will also conduct a talk in Mandarin on the inspiration behind “A Moving Masterpiece” and the work that went into the project.

We can’t understate the impact of seeing this immense painting in person. So pay a visit to this art exhibition; who knows, this art installation may just spark your interest in Chinese art.

The A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty exhibition will run at Singapore Expo, Hall 3, from December 7, 2011 to February 6, 2012. Tickets are priced at $21 each for adults, $16 each for children and $16 each for students and senior citizens. For more information, go to www.amovingmasterpiece.com.

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