28 May 2010
QI BAISHI (1863-1957)
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink on paper
101.6 x 33.6 cm. (40 x 13¼ in.)
Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist
In this lively depiction of shrimp, there is a deliberate order in the chaos of the shrimp that is also balanced by the calligraphy running on the left side of the painting. Qi Baishi rarely painted water in his shrimp and crab compositions, in the way he did with certain fish and landscape paintings, because the translucency of the water and its lightness reflected beautifully in the outline and forms of the animals themselves.
Qi's Shrimp not only exhibits his longing for village life, but also teaches us to delight in simple pleasures and bask in the beauty of everyday objects that are usually overlooked. Shrimp were part of Qi Baishi's childhood as well, for in one of his memoirs he recalls being bit by a shrimp when he dipped his feet in a pond by his house when he was thirteen. Afterwards he never dared perform the same activity again.
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