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(Chinese, B. 1955)
signed in Chinese; dated '04' (upper left)
oil on canvas
80 x 190 cm. (31 1/2 x 74 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2004
Anon. sale, Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7 October 2007, Lot 739
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

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Lot Essay

Hong Ling was born in Beijing in 1955. In his works, Hong searches relentlessly for a unique way to imbue Western landscape painting with the spirit of traditional Chinese landscape. He integrates the artistic vocabulary of the two different cultures in a contemporary context. Remarkably, the artist consciously adopted the lifestyle of recluse for 30 years. For Hong Ling, settling in the Yellow Mountains made it possible for him to reflect on the meaning of art and emulate the spirit of traditional landscape painters.

Each of Hong Ling's works is realized through the artist's personal vision and unique approach to color and composition. In Fragrance (Lot 164), the subtle fluctuations of blue, black and purple are laced intricately with glowing white, creating the effect of a cold, snow-speckled mountain emerging from the dark night sky. The work exhibits the artist's talent in capturing the subtle seasonal effects on a landscape and is also demonstrative of the artist's distinct use of colour and varied brushwork. The scroll-like panoramic composition does not have a central focal point, prolonging gaze of the viewer in a continuous process of discovery.

Hong was deeply inspired by the Chinese landscape master Huang Binhong. In an interview, he stated that "The ink work of Huang Binhong makes trees, mountains and grassy areas become part of a whole, other-worldly realm that breathes with life. His fluid, refined brushstrokes achieve a range of subtle effects, from wet to dry, broad to narrow." Exploring the relationship between lines, textures and colors in his own work, Hong was able to transcend the boundaries between realism and abstraction. By painting in this in-between realm, Hong sought to bring out the spirit or essence behind the image.

Though western in medium and technique, his work was motivated by the understanding of landscape painting as a meditation on nature and a depiction of the artist's inner world drawn from tradition of Chinese landscape painting. Full of visual richness, Hong's work exudes the power and mystery of nature and the fragile beauty of the human spirit.

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