This New Museum Showcases Hong Kong’s First 3D-Printed Monet Paintings
Claude Monet connoisseurs in Hong Kong now no longer need to travel all the way to Paris’ Musée Marmottan Monet for the Impressionist icon’s artwork. Opening today (23 March) in the artsy hub of Wong Chuk Hang, Metropolis Museum showcases 31 of Monet’s most noted works–all either professionally hand-painted copies or 3D printed replicas. Two of the paintings, A Stormy Sea and Jean-Pierre Hoschedé and Michel Monet on the Banks of the Epte, were lent by the National Gallery of Canada to be scanned and 3D printed for a vivid reproduction. They are the city’s first 3D printed paintings on display.
“I wouldn’t say 3D printed replicas are exactly the same as the originals,” says Vanessa Robine, founder of the museum. “The oil paint is different from the print material, and a freshly painted replica is less yellowish than the original painted long ago.” Yet she is thrilled that the city now has classic Western art for an up-close viewing experience. She hopes to create a museum experience where visitors can appreciate and learn about art through different media. “The new trend in art is to allow for greater democratisation of museums. To learn about art, you have to see the paintings and grasp what cannot be felt by looking at a book,” she says.
The idea of setting up the private museum stemmed from her travels in 2019. Exploring the galleries and museums in Europe, she realised that Hong Kong didn’t have a major gallery or museum exhibiting western classical art (or replicas of classical masterpieces) that she, an art lover herself, could bring her daughters to. She wanted to transport that experience to Hong Kong, where the art scene is gradually blossoming. “Not a lot of Hongkongers know how to appreciate classic Western art, but they can learn.”
Monet is a great start, and Robine chooses landmark works from the painter’s three most painted subjects: the French countryside, European cityscape and his garden in Giverny – some she cheekily admits are her biased choices. Standing in front of her favourite, “Strada romana à Bordighera”, Robine admires the quick, thick brush strokes and colour palettes that capture the painter’s myriad perceptions of the subject in the ephemeral moment – “impressions” which gave the painting style its name.
But Robine doesn’t just put together a treasure trove of Monet’s works. Placing together the starkly different hand-painted replicas of Waterlily pond, great harmony and Waterlillies, Robine explains the contrast of the painter’s earlier naturalistic style and later dense swirls documents his deteriorating eyesight. “Sometimes he paints the same subject at different times of the day too,” she says. “Can you believe it? He produced some 250 paintings only on waterlilies.”
Apart from paintings, visitors get to immerse in the augmented reality of Monet’s paintings in animated form, accompanied by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. The museum also features local leaf artist Ingko Lam who depicts Hong Kong’s landscapes with real leaves collected in the city to respond to Monet’s cityscape paintings.
Whose masterpieces will Robine transport to her metropolis of art next? She’s tightlipped about her vision. But for now, art aficionados can get a deeper “impression” of Monet from Monet, Perception of Light and Colour.
Monet – Perception of Light and Colouris on display from 23 March to 5 September 2020. Click here for more details.