Best known for his method of composite picture-making, created from a collage of negatives, Long Chin-san's lifelong artistic endeavors marks the early transformation of photography into a medium of fine art in modern China.
In his coveted landscapes works, Long Chin-san strived to capture the particular styles and moods of ancient masters in his compositions as well as to convey specificity in the grandeur of the particular scenic spots he visits and studies. In the rare works Autumn; & Fishing in the Lake (Lot 1219), the canons and techniques of traditional ink paintings are applied into photography and transformed into poetic and magnificent visions of rural idylls. The pastoral lifestyle and lofty nature of the ancient literati are imagined as atmospheric peaks and pavilions in Peaks Fantasia; & Shelter in the Valley (Lot 1216). An avid traveler to many famous natural landmarks in China, Long strived to capture the spirit and form of his objects and reinterpret them through his lens and images. This concern for the 'likeness in spirit' is combined with his distinct use of flexible perspectives and depth of fields that are fundamental in classical landscape paintings. In these, he creates an 'ideal picture of the mind' and strives to reinvigorate the traditional art form through the modern medium of photography.
In the early examples of classic straight photography, Fairy Tale; & Fir Trees (Lot 1219), we can witness the artist's mastery in capturing tight compositions of wonderfully textured and varied mid-tones. Long's yearning for the simple, leisurely life close to nature like that of the refined literati scholar is also captured in his still life series (Lot 1215, 1219), demonstrating his versatility and mastery of compositional arrangements in both painting and photography. As a constantly creative and modern artist, he made many breakthroughs in new art forms. The daring explorations in the female nude form in Indecision; & Inside the Net (Lot 1218), is a clear illustration of his transcendental understanding of the Western classical theme and pursuit of the ideals of beauty in all art forms. His constant exploration in new darkroom techniques led to novel compositions that had never been presented before. Created from flowers and lines placed on light-sensitive paper, his photograms (Lot 1218) render the simple elegance in the silhouettes of nature and the human form and are sources for our meditation into familiar subjects that have been injected with new vitality. Long's persistent desire to reinvigorate and reinterpret conventional art forms earns him the reputation of a master of Chinese 20th century photography, for which he is a painter, photographer and philosopher all at once