Specialist Kim Yu looks at Classical, Modern and Contemporary Ink works offered during our Spring 2017 Hong Kong sales season
‘People often ask, how should I appreciate landscape paintings when they all look the same?’ explains specialist Kim Yu. It is, he admits, an interesting question.
‘When looking closely, you realise that each painting is unique. We can differentiate between artist by the way they treated mountains and rocks in a painting.’ Li Keran’s paintings, for example, mostly focused on woods rather than mountains and rocks.
If the artists wanted to show the textures of rocks, such as harder rock, they would employ stronger and faster texture strokes. Softer lines are used for the mountains in Guangdong and the South as their silhouettes are softer and smoother, the specialist explains.
Why does a good landscape painting always depict mountains by a river? ‘In Jin Tingbiao’s Landscape in Rain, the river cascades down the canyons,’ says the specialist. ‘The mountains and river convey a sense of depth.’
Looking at a painting by Liu Kuo-sung, Kim Yu points out how the artist uses the river to set off the rocks, ‘which extend into the distance. Traditional painting and this kind of contemporary ink painting share a similar principle, which uses rivers and composition to create a sense of space.’
In traditional landscape painting, appreciating a scroll is like exploring the scenery with the artist. The poems and inscriptions on the back further help to complete these works of art.
Clouds are another important feature of landscape paintings. ‘While Zhang Daqian used clouds with splashed paints, contemporary painter Lui Shou-kwan uses water and ink to create an illusion of clouds,’ says Kim Yu.
Mountains, rocks, trees and rivers are not so important for Chinese modern and contemporary painters. ‘What matters,’ the specialist concludes, ‘is to fully express their emotions and intentions through the power of the artistic atmosphere. And the results are abstract paintings.’