Ka Bo Tsang
Research Associate - Retired
Area: World Cultures, World Art & Culture
B.A., Chinese Lit. & Art History, University of Hong Kong, 1969
M.A., Chinese Art History, University of Hong Kong, 1971
Ph.D., Chinese Art History, University of Hong Kong, 1984
Ka Bo Tsang was curator of Chinese pictorial art, she has published internationally on highlights from the ROM's collections and on symbolism in Chinese art. Her research interests range from Chinese fans, portraits, blue-and-white textiles to Chinese embroideries. She continues her study of the ROM's Chinese collections as a Research Associate.
Over the past few years Dr. Tsang has curated a number of exhibitions: More than Keeping Cool: Chinese Fans and Fan Paintings (2001-02), Touched by Indigo: Chinese Blue-and-White Textiles and Embroidery (2004-2005)—a link to the online catalogue can be found below—and Heaven or Hell: Images of Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Deities and Immortals (2006-2007). A new book has been published on the ROM’s Daoist paintings, Beyond clouds and waves: Daoist paintings in the Royal Ontario Museum (2013; see below). Dr. Tsang had the honour of being the curatorial representative for the inaugural exhibition in the Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall (Level B2), entitled The Allure of Edo: Japanese Paintings of the Floating World, a travelling exhibition circulated by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2007).
Her next exhibition Trade Winds: Chinese Export Wares from the 8th to 20th centuries was on view in the Herman Herzog Levy Gallery, the Asian Special Exhibitions Gallery at the ROM, from late 2007 to April 2008. This exhibition presented some of the most popular goods China produced and exported, through the centuries, to many countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. They included ceramics, wallpapers, watercolours, textiles, lacquerware, ivory carving, and silverware. This was followed by a very popular exhibition called Playful Pursuits: Chinese Traditional Toys and Games September 2010 to May 2011. Many of the toys displayed were unique but others were universal, but in their Chinese style, like spinning tops. An interesting look at how children and adults amuzed themselves in the past and even now.
Then came Small Skills, Special Effects: Unusual Chinese Works of Art July 2012 to February 2013. It was a unique show that recalled an influential era of Chinese craftsmanship which stood out for its dependence upon artistic self-discipline and dedication. It was a very special exhibition with many unique, rarely seen artifacts.
Dr. Tsang’s latest exhibition is Faces to Remember: Chinese Portraits of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911). It opened in June and runs to March 18, 2014. The show examines Chinese concepts of celebrating memories of the dead; explores the reasons behind the commissioning of portraits; and illuminates the techniques used by painters to meet their clients’ expectations. Showcasing a culturally important, but often-overlooked aspect of Chinese art and culture, the exhibition’s portraits are astonishing in their detail and embedded symbolism.
During her career Dr. Tsang’s responsibilities included the care, documentation, research, display, and growth of the collections she oversaw. In addition, she regularly participated in the ROM’s identification service for the public, the annual research colloquium, March Break activities, fundraising programs, special tours, and lecturing.
In addition to Chinese pictorial arts and textiles, Dr. Tsang’s interests also include Chinese decorative arts, religion, social customs, and symbolism.
With Lennert Gesterkamp and Klaas Ruitenbeek. Beyond clouds and waves: Daoist paintings in the Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto : Royal Ontario Museum, 2013.132 pp.
"New Perspectives on 'Snuff Bottles with Integral Dishes'." Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society 43, No. 3(2011), Part I, 4-27; Part II, 44, No. 1(2012), 20-33.
"'Official' Document: A Russian Painter's Perspective." ROM Magazine Summer 2011, 11.
"Playful Pursuits: Chinese Traditional Toys and Games." Newsletter of the Bishop White Committee, Fall 2010, 2-3.
"In the Shadow of a Tiger: Chinese Puppets Tell a Well-loved Tale." ROM Magazine 43, No. 1(2010), 44.
"By Imperial Command: Chinese Court Paintings from the University of Alberta Museums' Mactaggart Art Collection." Newsletter of the Bishop White Committee, Spring 2009, 2-3.
With Hugh Moss and Victor Graham. A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection (Vol. 6, Arts of the Fire). Hong Kong: Herald International Ltd., 2009, 631 pp.
With Hugh Moss and Victor Graham. A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection (Vol. 7, Organic, Metal, Mixed Media). Hong Kong: Herald International Ltd., 2008, 1018 pp.
Brilliant Strokes: Chinese Paintings from the Mactaggart Art Collection. Edmonton: Gutteridge Books/University of Alberta Press and University of Alberta Museums, 2008, 82 pp.
"Bridal Wear Revisited." ROM Magazine 41, No. 1(2008), 19.
"Chinese Wallpapers for Western Homes." Newsletter of the Bishop White Committee, Spring 2008, 2-3.
Touched by Indigo: Chinese Blue-and-White Textiles and Embroidery. Toronto: Privately printed, 2005, 80 pp.
More Than Keeping Cool: Chinese Fans and Fan Paintings. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 2002.
(All these publications are available for reading in the ROM's H.H. Mu Far Eastern Library)
Faces to Remember: Chinese Portraits of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911)