Lio Man Cheong

Our second day would be far less hectic than our first.  We had a new hotel to check into, the very exclusive Pousada de Sao Tiago at the base of Barra Hill, before doing lunch at their highly acclaimed Spanish restaurant, La Paloma.  In the afternoon we’d head down to Taipa for the Minority Sculptures Exhibition Park, located beside the airport.  Our day would finish up with dinner at MGM’s signature French restaurant, Aux Beaux Arts.  We started, however, by taking a walk up San Ma Lo for the Leal Senado Building, Macau’s municipal government headquarters.

Leal Senado Building

The Leal Senado Building is not only is the home of local politics, but also of frequent exhibitions, and we were very lucky to have seen local painter Lio Man Cheong’s excellent works on display that day.  The theme of the exhibition was Macau and I thought his best paintings captured the city and what if feels like to be in it rather brilliantly. 

On the one hand, there were straight up renderings of local people and famous places like Penha Church and St. Anthony’s Church that were overtly pleasant and optimistic. 

Lio Man Cheong St. Anthony’s Church
St. Anthony’s Church

Penha Church is covered in bright light, a picture of pristine beauty, a beacon of hope on top of the city. 

Lio Man Cheong Penha Church
Penha Church

Old men from Camoes Park smile in the late afternoon, care free and content, a bird cage in the background. 

Lio Man Cheong Camoes Park
Camoes Park

A street parade in Coloane Village is about to whisk around the corner and light up the day, depicted in thick muddy red and passionate orange.

Lio Man Cheong Coloane Village
Coloane Village Parade

In other works, however, especially of street scenes and other isolated landmarks, a more melancholy side to the city was revealed.  There was the impenetrable cold grey of a Monte Fort cannon pointing straight out into nothingness, abandoned and alone.  

Lio Man Cheong Monte Fort
Monte Fort

Na Cha Temple scowls dark and defiant, a pillar of strength and poverty at the same time. 

Lio Man Cheong Na Tcha Temple
Na Tcha Temple

Women kneel outside a shop on the Road of Merchants, Rua dos Mercadores, plying their trade on a street that slips into grey; the buildings opposite them indistinct and blurred with intermittent streaks of red, which are faded and unfinished.  Man Cheong doesn’t even bother completing them, they’re that insignificant. 

Lio Man Cheong Rua dos Mercadores
Rua dos Mercadores

Does he show the front of St Paul’s?  No, he shows the back, perhaps saying to everyone, our great treasure, our most important landmark, the symbol of our city, is a facade.  It’s just ruins.  The glory is gone.

Lio Man Cheong St Paul's
St. Paul’s

There were 3 or 4 other really good paintings, much larger works, but the security guard wouldn’t let us take pictures of them, so you’ll have to do with the selection I provided above. 

My compliments Mr Lio!!

Just because we can, I’d like to fast forward in time a little bit all the way to 2020, when the same artist had another exhibition at the Old Ladies Home.  The subjects were more diverse this time, with inspiration drawn from places both in and out of Macau.

Lio Man Cheong Old Ladies Home
The Old Ladies Home, where the exhibition happened.
Lio Man Cheong Avenida de Republica
Avenida de Republica
Lio Man Cheong Porto
Lio Man Cheong Obidos
Obidos, Portugal

And three different montages featuring different sides of Macau life:

Lio Man Cheong Macau city scapes

Lio Man Cheong Macau city scapes

Lio Man Cheong Macau city scapes

Excellent work as always, Mr Lio!

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