28 May 2010
QI BAISHI (1863-1957)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
135 x 33 cm. (53 1/8 x 13 in.)
Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist
There are many tales of Qi diligently observing the aquatic plants and animals that he wished to depict. On one such occasion, Lou Shibai recalled how Qi once bought a whole basketful of shrimp to dissect, play with and study. He would personally purchase them from the seller and would choose those which were green, at their best state. Apart from studying them fresh, he would also take some and dry them under the sun. He would pick a variety of sizes, from small shrimp to large river shrimp, then carefully observe them, sometimes using his brush to play with the antenna of the shrimp and watch them dance to extract the essence of the shrimp.
Qi's dedication to careful observation and painting from life not only makes this work of art lively and attractive but shows that Qi's daily life was inseparable from his painting and creation. The brush strokes are free yet precise, and the use of ink echoes Qi's calligraphy and seal carving skill in depth and control.
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