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I hissing in Dawn

I hissing in Dawn
signed, titled and dated 'I hissing in Dawn ting 71' (on the reverse); signed again ‘'TING' (on the stretcher); exhibition label of Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute Pittsburgh affixed to the stretcher
acrylic on canvas
178 x 229 cm. (70 x 90 in.)
Painted in 1971
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Pennsylvania, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute Pittsburgh, Fresh Air School, October 26, 1972 - January 7, 1973.

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Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡)

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Lot Essay

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Walasse Ting was one of the most dynamic artists working in New York. Following his encounters with neo-figurative art, hyperrealism, Pop Art, conceptual art and minimalist art, Ting created I hissing in Dawn at the height of the Abstract Expressionist period. The artist’s impassioned expression and spirited brushwork are most apparent in the painting—the work is an aesthetic exploration of form, color and velocity, as it is an epic response to the New Aesthetic era. Ting, Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell organized the ‘Fresh Air School’ exhibition of paintings that was named by Ting. This painting was among the works that were considered for showcase at the exhibition.

The Fresh Air School takes its inspiration from the beauty of nature, as it emphasizes creative spontaneity that stems from the artist’s feelings and state of mind. The radiant landscapes and thriving wildlife are transformed into vibrant colors, which flow with primitive drives across the canvas. In I hissing in the Dawn , the solid blue background conjures a sense of time and space. Splashes of dark green invoke the first light of dawn, bringing a ray of vitality into the composition. Touches of red, orange, marigold, cyan, purplish blue and dark purple meet in a poetic collision, which suggests an unmediated communion nature and color.

Color is the most distinctive feature of Ting’s language of painting. In I hissing in the Dawn , the brightness, forms, lines and energy of colors are reminiscent of Claude Monet’s Nympheas. The scenery blooms for a moment before it merges into powerful textures of paint, as if it was born from within the artist’s body and transformed into a pure ray of light and feelings. Every brushstroke of Ting is vigorous and decisive—he works with the instinctive expression associated with the action painting of Jackson Pollock, which is filled with the tension and momentum of fervent brushwork. As his friend and fellow artist, Pierre Alechinsky, wrote, “(Ting) loves splashes of colour for they are flowers in reality. He paints fluidly, and then nothing exists but the flowers which are, in reality, splashes.”

Born in Wuxi, Jiangsu in 1928, Ting was a painter, sculptor and poet. Throughout his life, Ting travelled around the world on a quest for breakthrough while embracing different artistic styles. Moving to Paris in 1952, he made the acquaintance of many members of the CoBra movement, including Asger Jorn and Pierre Alechinsky. In 1985, he moved to New York where he immersed himself in the art scene, befriending Pop art and Abstract Expressionist artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Tom Wesselmann. In 1964, Ting published 1 Cent Life , a book of his poetry illustrated by prominent artists of the 1960s from Europe and the US. In 1970, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship Award for drawing. Two years later, the Fresh Air School of painting led by Ting garnered wide acclaim in the art scene, along with the Gutai group from Japan and Art Informel from France of the same period.

“Paintings are my honey, colors are my flowers, velocity is what is required of a thief—he must paint as speedily as he draws a gun,” Ting once mused. I hissing in Dawn resounds with Ting’s unique expressivity and his surging yet delicate emotions, as the buoyant spirit and passion of a poet lie at the heart of his exuberant aesthetic expression.

Ting has been recognized as an important figure in the history of art. His works can be found in the permanent collections of more than 40 leading museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, the Taipei Fine Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Australia.

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