Appreciating Chinese painting and calligraphy can be a frustratingly clueless task. Luckily, Tang Hou, a Yuan connoisseur, offered to help with this advice: "In the case of landscapes or paintings of bamboo, plum blossoms, orchids, old trees, rocks, birds and flowers, they are ink-plays in which the initiated and cultured lodge their thoughts and feelings. Pray not to gauge them for formal likeness." In other words, if you are looking only for formal likeness, you are looking in the wrong direction. What is more, when you look at the brush and ink, you look at the artist. Withdrawal means attaining an ideal realm of existence while avowal, proclaiming one's conviction unequivocally. The proclamation, however, requires neither sound nor words when the medium is painting or calligraphy. When appreciating these works, it is the sincerity and integrity embodied that we should look for.
To showcase the manifestation of literati integrity in painting and calligraphy, 60 masterpieces have been selected from the Chih Lo Lou Collection and other Museum holdings for display with reference to their subjects, techniques and the artists' style names and courtesy names.