Yang Jiechang (B. 1956), Hundred Layers of Ink, 1990. A set of three scrolls mounted on canvas and framed. Ink on paper. Each scroll measures 45 x 44 cm. (17 3/4 x 17 3/8 in.) Estimate: HK$240,000-300,000 ($32,000-39,000). This work will be offered in the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale on 30 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Born in 1956, Guangdong-native Yang Jiechang gained international acclaim at the exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1989, and has lived in the city ever since, creating ink paintings and installations.
One of his earliest series, Hundred Layers of Ink is a performative process of repetition that contemplates the ideas of ink, time and space. Yang applies fresh ink onto paper until the point of saturation is reached — up to four applications daily over a long period. The surface becomes luminescent and sculptural as the ink accumulates, creating a beautiful marbling of dried ink, with an almost metallic sheen and distinct fragrance.
Li Jin (B. 1958),Washing Hair, 1999. Hanging scroll. Ink and colour on paper. 37.5 x 43 cm. (14 3/4 x 16 7/8 in.) Estimate: HK$50,000-70,000 ($6,500-9,100). This work will be offered in the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale on 30 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Li Jin’s paintings exude a crude sense of reality rarely seen in mainstream Chinese ink paintings. On first impression, it would be all too easy to discount Li Jin as merely another vulgar genre artist, but repeated inspection rewards the viewer with greater insight.
In 1984 he travelled to Tibet where his eyes were opened to the unique culture there; the Tibetan sun, colours and people have had a lifelong influence on Li’s art, empowering it with optimism and richness.
Li’s typical compositions are packed with semi-naked figures and food, symbolising sex and nourishment, the main primal urges in life. The ‘excess’ of things implies a sense of vanity, hedonism and conspicuous consumption commonly displayed in contemporary China.
Li suggests that physical enjoyment may be transient. His concern for mortality is hinted at in the lack of facial expression in his figures, suggesting a fleeting sense of fear. In portraying this unembellished reality with humour, Li’s paintings infuse a sense of positivity and resonate with the spirit of a daily life that is filled with contrasting emotions.
Liu Kuo-Sung (Liu Guosong, B. 1932), Deep Autumn, 2008. Scroll, mounted and framed. Ink and colour on paper. 91 x 152.5 cm. (35 7/8 x 60 in.)
Executed in 2008. Estimate: HK$1,200,000–1,500,000 ($160,000–190,000). This work will be offered in the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale on 30 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Born in 1932, Liu Kuo-sung revolutionised his landscape paintings through the use of vibrant colours and new techniques at a time when many of his contemporaries employed only ink and rice paper to reflect a continuation of the classical tradition. Traditional Chinese landscape painting translates literally as ‘mountain and water painting’ (shan shui hua), with great emphasis placed on the rendering of the mountains, with water seldom depicted in detail and often left as a blank space. Liu’s works, however, show a clear fascination with both water and mountain, inspired particularly by his travels to Tibet and the beautiful lakes of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan.
Liu’s fascination with water led the artist to work over the course of two decades on a technique that would capture the ever-changing and ethereal nature of the element. To convey the surface of a body of water at different times of the year, Liu first applies ink and watercolour to moist tracing paper, before placing another sheet of tracing paper on top. He then sweeps the composition with a broad brush, leaving unpredictable horizontal patterns as the two sheets are separated from one another.
Through variations of colour, paper thickness, and pressure of application, Liu’s water paintings depict everything from an autumn lake with intense red hues, to a pond in soothing green tones in spring. By conveying the changing energy of water and the environment reflected upon it, Liu shifts this often-neglected element to the centrepiece of Chinese landscape painting.
Wang Dongling, Language of Ink, 2010. Scroll, mounted and framed. Ink on paper. 97 x 180 cm. (38 1/8 x 70 7/8 in.). Estimate: HK$280,000-380,000 ($36,285-49,244). This work will be offered in the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale on 30 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Born in 1945, Wang Dongling is one of the most renowned living Chinese calligraphers. His experimental and abstract style draws on the rich traditions of classical Chinese aesthetics and philosophy; he once claimed that ‘the brush has become an extension of my body. Calligraphy has been my calling, my life, and my aspiration.’
His enormous, sweeping cursive character-like brushstrokes liberate the medium of calligraphy from the confines of text and language. Wang expertly demonstrates the versatility of the artform, in which the format and subject are made relevant to contemporary society, resulting in abstract works that interact harmoniously with their surroundings.
In recent years he has worked with erotic photographs to explore the sensuality of his cursive calligraphy and the shape of the female body. Wang also holds live performances of his calligraphy writing in public spaces. His latest series, Squiggle Calligraphy, also known as Chaotic Calligraphy, is marked by the overlapping of characters, qualifying it both as calligraphy and painting.
Wang Tiande (B. 1960), Hou Shan No 14 — HLST004, 2014. Scroll, mounted and framed. Ink on paper. 157.5 x 87.5 cm. (62 x 34 1/2 in.) Estimate: HK$240,000-350,000 ($32,000-45,000). This work will be offered in the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale on 30 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Born in 1960 in Shanghai, Wang Tiande was trained in calligraphy but his painting goes beyond the art of writing. A keen innovator in the category, he creates conceptual, experimental works in a distinctive style, blending different materials and techniques in his HouShan series.
When the ash of his lit cigarette was accidentally flicked onto xuan paper, Wang has said that he was mesmerised as it hollowed the paper creating a shape by chance. Inspired, he began transforming his landscape paintings — often accompanied by calligraphy — by directly burning into paper with a cigarette or incense, against a background of classical Chinese paintings copied from traditional works.
Language, text, image and medium therefore become intertwined in Wang’s work: the layers of paper woven through with burn marks and ink obstruct the viewer’s ability to derive meaning from the painting, creating delicate and complex palimpsests for the modern age.
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