From New Year Prints to Propaganda Posters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong Museum of History

Ends Jun 16

Like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, the Chinese government used propaganda posters as a means to persuade and influence the public in the 1950s and 60s. Whether art should be used for political means remains controversial, but one cannot deny that propaganda art has historical value over the past century, socially and artistically.

The latest exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of History proves this with a display of about 50 reproductions of propaganda posters selected from the collection of the China Archives of Publications - the only institution appointed to manage Chinese government publications. Since its establishment in 1950, the organisation has acquired some 50,000 items, recording the development of Chinese propaganda art and reflecting cultural changes in China since the 1950s.

Among the themes of the exhibited posters are rural life, women, industrialisation and reconstruction, recreation and holiday festivities, national defence, revolution and portraits of political leaders.

'The propaganda posters testify to the historical issues of different times and show the social affairs of each period. The styles of the posters are unique and full of artistic appeal,' says Louis Ng Chi-wah, the Leisure & Cultural Services Department's assistant director of heritage and museums.

It's the folk-art element in Chinese propaganda art that stands out from its counterparts in Europe. Political and social messages were firstly circulated in China in the early 20th century, in forms of New Year woodblock prints and paintings.

Their popularity might have caught the attention of the government and influenced their way of delivering messages to the masses in a folk art style.

To trace the prototypes of Chinese propaganda posters, New Year prints and calendar posters from the collections of Hong Kong Heritage Museum and Museum of History are also on display.

Daily 10am-6pm (Sun and public holidays until 7pm), closed Tue, HK Museum of History, 100 Chatham Rd South, TST. Inquiries: 2724 9042