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Throughout history, insects and small creatures inhabiting the wild have enchanted people with their adorable figures and intriguing liveliness. Painters in the past had centred around them and developed a specific category as ‘caochong’ proximately nine-hundred years ago. The special exhibition “Hide-and-Seek Insects” focuses on caochong paintings through the ages, encouraging visitors to find these tiny living things captured by the painters; in the hope to identify their species and further reveal the related stories and embedded connotations. The exhibition also selects works of literature, insect images from pharmaceutical publications, educational illustrations, teaching charts of insects, and taxidermy pieces; we aim to clearly present the uniqueness of caochong paintings with the comparison; further manifest the intentions delivered by these paintings.

The incorporation of modern natural science creates a new dimension to this exhibition. We sincerely appreciate the participation of entomologists. Not only did they assist us in determining how realistic is the physical appearances of insects portrayed by different painters and identifying the species. In addition, they led us to understand the depictions of habitat by the natures of insects; their guidance even reached the acknowledgement that various dramatic episodes of life and death performed by all creatures is on display on the painting.

Let us join the game of hide-and-seek that combines art and natural science. While admiring how painters gave appraisals to the inconspicuous creatures through the paintbrushes, we should also seek their dainty existence in the ancient paintings.

Publication: Hide-and-Seek Insects Special Exhibition Catalogue