Opening / Event Date: 17 May, 2021
Closing / End Date: 24 Oct, 2021
Thursday, 10 December 2015, 6 to 8pm
Hanart TZ Gallery
401 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, HK
CHENG Tsai –Tung, Gade, LIE Fhung, TSENG Yu-Ho, Dagvasambuugiin UURIINTUYA, WANG Chuan, WANG Dongling, WONG Chung-Yu, XU Longsen, YAN Shanchun, YU Peng
Sculptural Objects, Assemblages by
FUNG Ming Chip, LEE Man Sang, Nortse, XU Guodong, and 13th-15th Century Tibetan Artists
Jewellery by Mimi LIPTON
Environment Design by LEE Man Sang
Curated by Valerie C. DORAN
Presented by Hanart TZ Gallery in Collaboration with Fabio Rossi
Art as a Place (Maybe a Garden)
Valerie C. Doran
The Garden of Winter Light (a space to linger) is in essence an atmospheric intervention in a ‘white cube’ gallery space. Its structure (in both a physical and metaphysical sense) emanates from the resonance and consonance that emerges from the combined presence, or sounding, of an eclectic mix of artist’s voices within an (eclectically) reconfigured environment. This environment was collaboratively designed with the wonderful Hong Kong artist Lee Man Sang, whose artistic practice includes sculpture, assemblage, invented musical instruments and other artistic makings more hard to define.
The curatorial approach was inspired by a theoretical concept developed by Johnson Chang Tsong-Zung, Gao Shiming and Qiu Zhijie, and which they have applied to two previous exhibitions (Taipei 2005, Shanghai 2006). Called the ‘Yellow Box’, this theory examines elements of traditional Chinese literati (scholar-artist) aesthetics and the way these can be applied to a contemporary context, in particular as regards the literati way of engaging with art in an environment. The traditional space of literati gatherings was either in a garden or a studio—a space to linger—where guests met to drink tea or wine, admire scroll paintings and calligraphy (and perhaps add their own colophons), play or listen to music, and enjoy objets d’art (often called ‘scholar’s playthings’). These were often antiquities, or sculptural pieces that incorporated objects which were brought directly out of wild nature and into culture: for example the scholar’s rock which is basically a found natural object that becomes an art object when it is mounted on a stand. In a contemporary context, the Yellow Box is both a response to, and a potential intervention in, the neutralized space of the modern gallery or exhibition hall.
The Garden of Winter Light is meant to reflect the idea of a conceptual garden, a space that is embracing and invites lingering. Since the show is taking place in December—both the height of winter and, in many cultures, the season of spiritual light—the artwork ‘reflects’ certain associative qualities, and references three of the Five Elements of Chinese cosmology—metal, water, and earth—which are related to autumn and winter and the shift between the seasons. The connection to these elements in the artworks is sometimes material, sometimes visual and sometimes allusive.
The Garden of Winter Light is not meant to be a stage set imitating the past but something real in itself and authentic to this moment. The fact that this ‘garden’ is coming into being in a contemporary art gallery, in an urban setting, means inevitably that there are more problematized contemporary sensibilities involved: for example, while much of the art celebrates the link to nature, sometimes it is about the incursion of contemporary culture into nature, and the loss of balance.
In curating the show I had the opportunity to select from the collections of both Hanart TZ Gallery and Fabio Rossi, encompassing artists across different generations and different worlds. The element of water, associated with winter, also represents the flow of time, and in this space one is moving through time, encountering moments of artistic creation spanning centuries as well as decades and geographies, from 13th century Tibet to early 1990s Taiwan to present-day Hong Kong, Mongolia and elsewhere. This eclecticism is part of the unfolding of small journeys within this space. One of the essential things that connects the works is an inner/intra resonance and refraction grounded in a concern with that interface between culture and nature which so captivated literati aesthetics; and also with culture itself when it too is natural—when it grows and adapts and transforms without losing its source-root.
Central to the aesthetic and material environment, and an unusual aspect of it, is the presence of the frankly stunning work of London-based independent jewelry designer Mimi Lipton, who has been collecting raw gems, shells, coral and other natural objects from her travels around the globe for many decades. Mimi collaborates with artist-goldsmiths to produce sculptural pieces of jewelry that represent her own version of that interface between wild nature and culture. Many of the pieces are mounted and sculpted in such a way that they seem like small universes unto themselves, in much the same way that a scholar’s rock does.
Reflecting the aura of the rare and precious is a luminous mixed-media diptych by Tseng Yu-Ho (one of the first ink painters to experiment with using traditional materials in unorthodox ways), which exemplifies her unique ‘dsui-hua’ technique, in which the paper itself is also used as an expressive, painterly medium. This is a rare work and a centrepiece of the exhibition.
Mongolian artist Dagvasambuugiin Uuriintuya’s deceptively ornate landscapes, almost tapestry-like in their textural richness, are marked by a striking dichotomy of delicacy and power as she reveals the heart and bones of the mountains and the visceral human presence therein. Mainland Chinese artists Yan Shanchun and Wang Chuan each uses a distinctive language to create semi-abstract paintings that hold the gaze on small scenes within nature—whether a lotus pond in Hangzhou or a fish floating beneath a tangled reed─to reveal the luminous energy shining within nature’s seemingly random patternings. Beijing-based ink painter Xu Longsen, known for his soaring, monumental landscapes, here is represented by a group of smaller-scale, delicate works in ink-and-colour on gold paper that are like fractals holding the entire presence and weight of the mountains.
The revered calligrapher Wang Dongling, who for the last decade has focused on monumental calligraphic installations of passages from the Chinese classics and Buddhist sutras, is by contrast represented here by a bit of whimsy, a fan inscribed with the lyrics to a popular Chinese song.
Two works by calligrapher and seal carver Fung Ming Chip, created two decades apart, reveal different facets of the artist’s deeply conceptual sensibilities: his monumental carved ‘seal’ in wood and acrylic contains quirky calligraphic forms that look almost animated, as though they were ready to walk out of the frame, while his ‘time-based’ calligraphy communicates simultaneously the qualities of appearance and disappearance.
Chinese-Indonesian artist Lie Fhung’s abstract landscapes executed in mixed media on copper represent another kind of interface between culture and nature: the artist’s elegant compositions are a result of using organic interventions to alter the oxidation process of the copper, after which she sets the metal aside for several months to allow the imagery to evolve naturally, before intervening again. Reflecting a more traditional form of this intervention into nature are the scholar’s rocks of sculptor Xu Guodong, who continues an ancient tradition of ‘working’ natural stones to enhance the forms that originally sculpted by the tools of wind, water and time.
The wild, dynamic energy of the eccentric Taiwanese ink artist Yu Peng (who sadly passed away last year) manifested in visions of his own life in contemporary Taiwan set amidst fantastical gardens that he painted on everything from little wooden boxes to large scroll paintings to the ceiling of his house (we do not include the ceiling in the present show). The flaneur sensibility of Yu Peng’s contemporary, Cheng Tsai-Tung, is captured in the expressionistic language of his ink painting of a silvery night landscape that manages at once to be austere and decadent, romantic and ironical.
Hong Kong painter and new media artist Wong Chung-Yu’s meticulous articulations capture the dichotomy of extreme urbanism and urgent natural beauty that is at the core of Hong Kong’s duality. The Tibetan contemporary artists Gade and Nortse create art that is simultaneously bitter, beautiful and humourous. From Gade’s cloisonné books and painted scrolls to Nortse’s mandala assemblage, each artist makes deceptive use of traditional forms to reveal, on closer investigation, that what they are actually working with is both the material and conceptual detritus of global cultural encroachment.
Reverberating forward and backwards in time is a group of hand-carved and painted Tibetan sutra covers dating from the 13th-15th century, whose rich and reverential luminosity is offset by an abstract quality that reminds us how sophisticated abstract forms are as eternal and transcendent as nature, philosophy and experimentation itself.
CHENG Tsai-Tung (b. 1953, Taipei, Taiwan)
Cheng Tsai-Tung is one of an important group of Taiwan artists who first made their mark during the late 70s and early 80s by contemporising literati aesthetics via a unique mode of Expressionism, blended with subtly surrealist imagery. Cheng often creates compositions of Taiwan quotidian life into which he inserts a version of himself as the loitering intellectual – a personal statement of engagement with his own time as a flaneur. He also has a strong grasp of two elements that most contemporary artists interested in the literati mode have neglected: an authentic use of colour and an understanding of the aesthetics of you, an interior/ exterior quality of dimness and quietude. Cheng’s spirit of literati leisure is a form of wisdom, because an easy heart is not restricted by historical space-time. Whether at work or play, he treads lightly and leaves no traces. He partakes equally of the pleasures of antiquity and the engagements of contemporary life, but he carries no baggage with him.
Gade (b. 1971, Lhasa, Tibet)
Gade graduated from the Art Department of Tibet University in Lhasa, where he later went on to teach. In 1992 he began his studies of Chinese painting and art history at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Gade’s paintings and sculpture combine traditional Tibetan symbolism and techniques with imagery derived from Western contemporary popular culture. Often humourous, the works comment on the impact of globalisation and modernisation on traditional Tibetan culture and religion.
A founding member of the Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild, Gade has exhibited in numerous solo and group shows internationally, and his artworks are held in private and public collections around the world including the National Art Museum of China, the World Museum Liverpool and the White Rabbit Foundation, Australia. In 2010 he co-curated the ground-breaking Scorching Sun of Tibet exhibition at the Song zhuang Art Center, Beijing — the first museum show of contemporary Tibetan art in China.
LIE Fhung (b. 1969, Jakarta)
Born and raised in Jakarta, Lie Fhung studied fine art at the Bandung Institute Technology, majoring in Ceramics. Moving to Hong Kong in the late 1990s, she extended her artistic practice to working with diverse materials, including porcelain, metal, fabric, and digital media, often presented in the form of installations. Lie Fhung is known for the delicate tactile sensibility that infuses much of her work. Her copper and mixed-media series Life Force: Terrain reflects Lie Fung’s deep sense of connection with nature as a powerful source of healing and life. Through experimentation with heat and the application of organic materials to copper plate, and then leaving the copper to oxidize over a period of several months, Fhung collaborates with nature itself in creating the imagery that emerges.
Fhung’s work has been featured in both national and international art exhibitions, and she has also received numerous awards. In 2007, her work was acquired for the Permanent Collection of the World Ceramic Foundation in Icheon, South Korea. She was the recipient of a Freeman Fellowship Award for an Artist’s Residency at Vermont Studio Center in the US in 2008. Her ceramic installation, flight , is featured in the book Contemporary Ceramics by Emmanuel Cooper (Thames & Hudson , 2009). Most recently in 2015, she received Silver Prize from UOB Art Academy Awards Hong Kong for her work Life Force : Sparks.
TSENG Yu-Ho (b. 1925, Beijing)
Born into a respected literati-official family, Tseng Yuho studied painting in Beijing with Pu Quan, a cousin of the last emperor, Pu Yi. By the age of eighteen, she was an accomplished painter in the traditional manner; yet she later became one of the first ink painters to radically experiment with both its medium and its processes. After moving to Europe in 1948 with her husband, sinologist Gustav Ecke, Tseng played with deconstructing the materials of traditional scroll mounting and bringing them on to the painting surface. She later developed the unique process she termed ‘dsui hua’(掇畫), using collage paper and other non-brush techniques to create textured images of great refinement and luminosity. In the early 1950s, Tseng settled in Hawaii, where she taught Chinese art history, painted and wrote books. Works by Tseng Yu-Ho are prominently collected by institutions around the world, and her contributions to innovation in ink painting rank among those of Wang Jiqian, Zao Wuki, Lü Shoukun and Liu Guosong.
Dagvasambuugiin UURIINTUYA (b. 1979, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)
Dagvasanbuu Uuriintuya studied painting at the School of Fine Arts, Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture, Ulaanbaatar.
Inspired by traditional patterned designs to reflect the experiences of Mongolian women, Uuriintuya’s paintings incorporate both poetic and everyday imagery. Her paintings frequently include recognisable motifs from traditional Buddhist painting and East and Central Asian aesthetics, as well as psychologically charged imagery of contemporary life. Uuriintuya’s works have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions around Asia, including the Ninth Shanghai Biennale (2012), and the exhibition Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012 at the Fukuoka Aisan Art Museum. In 2012 she was also honoured as Painter of the Year by the Mongolian Painting Association.
WANG Chuan (b. 1953, Chengdu, China)
Wang Chuan graduated from the Chinese Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 1982. He lives and works in Beijing.
He began the early years of his career as a successful realist painter. In 1984 he moved to Shenzhen, whose openness to Hong Kong and to a wider world led him towards an interest in minimalism and installation work. As an important artist of the ’85 New Wave art movement, Wang began to turn more towards experimentation with an abstract painting language, and his abstract works were featured in the seminal China/Avant-Garde exhibition (1989) at the National Museum of China in Beijing. By early 1990s, Wang Chuan was producing ‘hard edge’ abstract works, working with both Chinese and Western media. In the late 1990s’, sudden illness drew Wang Chuan to a turning point which helped to transform his practice. The energy at work here arises from contrasts contained within, between big and small, imaginary and real: thick and thin, points, lines and surfaces that produce an almost spiritual experience. It is when an artist manages to let go of the ego and submits to the profound laws of the universe.
Wang Chuan’s works are part of many museum collections, including the Minsheng Art Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Long Museum, Shanghai.
WANG Dongling (b. 1945, Jiangsu Province, China)
Wang Dongling is one of the most celebrated and gifted of the modernist calligraphers in China and one of the few who has for many years enjoyed an international reputation. His works were influenced by his experience in the United States from 1989 to 1992, when he served as a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota and at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Wang began developing a new form of composition that synthesises traditional Chinese aesthetics with modernist art. Usually there are no decipherable Chinese characters in his works, which have become closer to abstract painting than to calligraphy. Wang Dongling has been enormously influential on the whole development of contemporary calligraphy and ink painting. Wang Dongling received his Master’s degree in Chinese painting from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou in 1981. He now a Professor in the Calligraphy Department of China Academy of Art, and Director of the Contemporary Calligraphy Research Centre of China Academy of Art, at present he lives and works in Hangzhou, China. His work has been featured in many international exhibitions, including China: Five Thousand Years (1998), Guggenheim Museum, New York; Brushes with Surprise: The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China (2002), British Museum, London; and Ink & Brush – Chinese Writing Art Exhibition (2006), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, USA. Recent solo shows include Brushing the Tides (2013), Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong and The Daoism of Calligraphy (2011), Zhejiang Museum of Art, Hangzhou.
WONG Chung-Yu (b. 1977, Hong Kong)
Wong Chung-Yu is a painter, new media artist and award-winning writer. He received his Master’s degree in Computer Science from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) where he also studied painting. He was awarded a scholarship by the British Council to pursue an MFA in Digital Arts at Camberwell College of Arts of The University of Arts London and graduated with Distinction. Wong focuses on the harmonization of digital technology within a Chinese painting context, and his experiments include developing a software system to simulate the infiltration effect of ink in digital works, incorporating painting and projected animation and 3D modeling, among others. Wong’s work has been exhibited extensively in China and internationally, and is in both public and private collections.
XU Longsen (b. 1956, Shanghai)
Xu Longsen studied at the Shanghai Arts Crafts College from which he graduated in 1976. Since that time Xu Longsen has embarked on a journey of innovation in ink painting in which he has revived the cardinal virtues of Chinese painting—the qualities of being forceful and unrestrained, open-hearted and expansive. Through his landscape practice Xu, constructs his own primeval world: and even though the elements of nature illuminated within this world are part of a communal environment, Xu’s realm of landscape is completely different from those realms created by traditional landscape artists, which can be ‘roamed through and inhabited’. In contrast, Xu’s landscapes loom before the viewer as remote, amorphous scenes anchored in quiet and solitude: these are realms that do not invite entry. Perhaps Xu Longsen’s intention is to subvert the Confucian notion that ‘The wise love the the water; the benevolent enjoy the mountains’. Instead, perhaps what Xu seeks to create is a kind of response that is in keeping with the Daoist concept that ‘Heaven and Earth are not benevolent: they treat all creatures as straw dogs’ (i.e. insignificant). The creative forces of Heaven and Earth follow the ‘method’ of Nature, and the ‘method’ of ‘Nature’ goes beyond ‘the joys of benevolence and wisdom’: it is no more nor less than the eternal cycle of birth and decay.
Xu Longsen’s works have been exhibited in esteemed institutions worldwide, including Palace of Justice in Brussels, Belgium, the Museum of Roman Civilization in Rome Italy, The Brunei Gallery in London, The Nelson- Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, USA , Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts, in Nanjing China and the Museum of Contemporary Art of China Academy of Art in Hangzhou China.
YAN Shanchun (b. 1957, Hangzhou, China)
During the late 1970s Yan Shanchun studied at the Zhejiang Art Academy in Hangzhou (now the China Art Academy), and thus belongs to the generation of artists who were the first to graduate after the academies were closed during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Yan Shanchun was deeply immersed in the study of the lives, connoisseurship and art of early 20th century literati masters such as Huang Binhong and Pan Tianshou, and extended this also to very systematic research into (and publication of an important study regarding) the entire literati tradition which was so highly revered by them. At the same time, in his artistic training Yan specialized in Western painting and became well versed in a whole range of techniques from realism to impressionism and abstraction, and undertook analysis into the Western-influenced painting of artists such as Lin Fengmian, Wu Dayu, Ni Yide and Guan Liang, His solid foundation in formalist techniques combined with his deep artistic cultivation have allowed him to travel a path completely different from that of other contemporary Chinese artists: one marked by an ability to nurture and develop his painting by cultivating his knowledge. In his recent works on canvas Yan Shanchun employs the various media and techniques of ink, acrylic and tempura to create visual remembrances of his youth spent along the shores of West Lake. Yan spent more than 24 years roaming amid that beautiful landscape and has an intimate knowledge of each nook and cranny. In the last few years, this act of remembrance has become an integral part both of Yan’s life and of his creative work. Yan Shanchun is currently the Deputy Director of the Shenzhen Painting Academy, and the Academic Director of the Shenzhen International Ink Painting Biennial; as painter he is honoured as a First Level Artist.
YU Peng (1955-2014)
Born in Taipei, Yu Peng was a self-taught maverick artist much admired worldwide for over three decades. Creative and impulsive, he studied with the artist Chen Yigeng and explored various visual arts media from in and oil, to woodblock printing and clay. At age twenty he joined the military and from then on travelled extensively, making his living as street artist. In the 1980s, his world travels inspired him to reflect on his cultural origins and to investigate the visual environment and spirit of traditional literati culture. He has had innumerable solo and group exhibitions worldwide including, and his art has been collected by major museum institutions, including the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Sculptural Objects, Assemblages by
FUNG Ming Chip (b. 1953, Guangdong, China)
A self-taught artist, Fung Ming Chip is primarily an artist of the word: essayist, novelist, poet, playwright, seal carver and Chinese calligrapher. He was born in Guangdong, raised in Hong Kong and moved to New York City in his mid-20s, before relocating to Taiwan and then coming full circle to Hong Kong. Fung’s experimentations with seal carving broke through the traditional frame of the seal carver’s art. Gradually, the sense of writing a personal presence through a technique other than brush and ink inspired him to experiment with new ways of playing with the relationship between paper, ink and word-form. Fung’s artistic process is based on a rationalization of the elements of time and sequential movement in calligraphic writing, and also a calculation of the process by which ink emerges from the absorbent ground of the Chinese xuan paper. The sense of time and motion, and the magic of apparition and disappearance are recurring themes in Fung’s work.
Fung’s work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions internationally and is included in some of the most important collections of Chinese calligraphy around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; White Rabbit Collection, Sydney; and Israel Museum, Jerusalem. He has also been active as a painter, photographer, and sculptor. He was artist in residence at Cambridge University, and he was recently commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a new work for the exhibition Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China (2013-14).
LEE Man Sang (b. 1962, Hong Kong)
At once a master craftsman, musician and sculptor, Lee Man Sang lives a reclusive life in his ancestral village in rural Hong Kong, and his art reflects his love of nature and natural rhythms. In recent years, Lee has focused on assembling and working with found materials and artefacts from his village, and creating hand-made objects and instruments. His works have the quality of sophisticated craft but at the same time embody a profound but subtle conceptualism. Lee is also active as a performance artist and improvisational musician, collaborating with Hong Kong artists working in various media in improvisations and performance events.
Nortse (b. 1963, Lhasa. Tibet)
Born Norbu Tsering in Lhasa, Nortse has studied at Tibet University in Lhasa, the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing and art academies in Guangzhou and Tianjin. The artist has since amassed both aesthetic and life experiences that have resulted in his creation of striking mixed-media works that experiment with forms and imagery from traditional art and culture. Nortse’s art addresses universal concerns: global warming, environmental degradation, overpopulation, alcoholism among youth, the erosion of culture and tradition, and the desire to establish one’s own identity in a world of mass media. Given the recent history of Tibet, the artist addresses these issues with an added urgency and poignancy. Nortse’s works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in China, Europe and the United States, and are held in public and private collections worldwide. He was a participant in ‘Go east’, a showcase of works from the Gene and Brian Sherman Contemporary Asian Art Collection, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (May-June 2015).
XU Guodong (b. 1950, Shanghai)
Xu Guodong’s interest in traditional Chinese rocks came from his father, Xu Zhiming, who was a well-known hard-stone landscape artist. Xu Guodong himself is a major figure in the revival of contemporary interest in the art of scholar’s rocks. His rock sculptures have been awarded numerous accolades and have been exhibited and collected extensively in China and abroad.
Manuscript Cover by Anonymous Tibetan Artist (13th-14th Century)
At the centre of this Buddhist manuscript cover is a gilded and incised image of Sarasvati playing a vina. On either side of the goddess of music and eloquence are four gold medallions surrounded by scrolling foliage. Each medallion contains a Buddhist symbol: an eternal knot, two fish, triratna and offerings in a bowl. The central field of the book is surrounded by borders of multi coloured and gilded stripes and by interchanging red and green stylized petals. These are followed by a wide border of red lotuses, painted on a blue background, and overlaid with small gilded medallions incised with various Buddhist symbols.
Mimi Lipton was born in Austria, and educated in Belgium and England. She worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, where she was able to further her interest in modern art. She has been a lifelong collector and patron in all things Tibetan, and has travelled extensively in Africa and Asia. Publications include The Tiger Rugs of Tibet, Stacking Wood with Thorsten Düser, In the Oriental Style: A sourcebook of Decoration and Design with Michael Freeman and Siân Evans, and Jewelry from Tibet and Nepal with Jane Singer. She was also closely involved in the research and realisation of the exhibition ‘People of the Golden Triangle’ and the accompanying book by Paul and Elaine Lewis.
Valerie C. DORAN
Valerie C. Doran is a Hong Kong-based curator, art critic and translator specializing in the field of Chinese contemporary art with a special interest in cultural cross-currents and comparative art theory. Her curatorial practice has focused on collaborations with Hong Kong artists in particular, and in recent projects she has worked with Frog King Kwok, Leung Mee Ping and Angela Su, among others. Following her acclaimed curatorial project Looking for Antonio Mak at the Hong Kong Museum of Art (2008-09), Doran was awarded the Certificate of Commendation from the Hong Kong SAR for contributions to arts and cultural activities in Hong Kong. Doran is currently Curatorial Director at Hanart TZ Gallery.
Gallery: Alisan Fine Arts
Artist(s): Dong Wensheng, Han Lei , Hung Fai, Hung Keung, Koon Wai Bong, Ryan LaBar, Pan Yingguo, Shi Jinsong, Wai Pong-yu, Yau Wing Fung, Zhang Jian-Jun, Zhang Xiaoli, Zhang Ying
Opening / Event Date: 13 Aug, 2021
Closing / End Date: 7 Nov, 2021