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Guo Hua – Defining Contemporary Chinese Painting, March 9 – April 29

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Guo Hua: Defining Contemporary Painting

For Immediate release

M. Sutherland Fine Arts proudly celebrates Asia Week New York 2017 by presenting the work of eleven Chinese artists in an exhibition “Guo Hua: Defining Contemporary Painting” at its new gallery space at 7 East 74th Street (Third Floor).

What makes a work guo hua? The literal meaning is “national painting”. That is, art painted in China and based on traditional Chinese themes of painting. But could the term be used to describe ink painting made by any ethnic Chinese artist working in other parts of Asia or in the West? Might guo hua also include oil painting, collage or another Western medium wielded by a modern Chinese artist whose philosophical viewpoint expresses traditional theories of Chinese painting? Our Asia Week NY 2017 exhibition illustrates the expansive definition of guo hua with the art of eleven artists: Fung Mingchip, Hai Tao, Hsia Ifu, Hsu Kuohuang, Hu Xiangdong, Hung Hsien, Jia Youfu, Liang Quan, Yang Mian, Zhu Daoping and Zhu Jinshi.

In his landscape “Seeking the Way in a Spring Mountain,” 2016 (ink and color wash on paper), Taiwan-based artist Hsu Kuohuang boldly uses splashed ink and color to create an ambiguously “contemporary” rendering of cliff-like peaks flattened against the painting surface in a way that recalls the closely cropped photographs of Edward Weston. The modern viewer would never mistake this for a copy of earlier Chinese work. Yet Hsu’s work remains guo hua because he uses the same mineral powders that ancient Chinese artists brushed into their “blue and green style” landscapes in the 9th century. Hsu’s creative vision is Chinese, but the artist (born 1950) grew up eastern Taiwan, a much freer and less restricted environment than the People’s Republic of China. Although produced in Taiwan, Hsu’s landscapes remain in the scholarly tradition of Chinese classical landscape and, arguably, express more of the traits of guo hua than any other paintings in the show.

Hai Tao, a Nanjing-based painter (born 1959), paints surreal, fantastic images using layers of wash brushed in multiple layers to create abstract, sweeping veils of ink on paper. While Hai uses the traditional brush and ink and mo-gu (no bones) brushwork style that can be traced back to the Southern Song masters, the landscape forms bear a tenuous connection to reality. As inspiration, Hai listens to Western classical music, causing him to fall into a meditative state when painting. Certainly no Southern Song or Qing eccentric painter like Gong Xian, (another source of inspiration to Hai) would have been listening to Mozart in their studio! Hai Tao’s paintings are the result of this mix of unusual inspirations, but still are unquestionably guo hua.

The inclusion of the pastel-toned landscape oil, “Estranged No. 3” by Hu Xiangdong, a Beijing-based painter (born 1961), certainly stretches the definition of guo hua. Hu described the scene parenthetically as a view from Diao Yutai, a former imperial garden in western Beijing (now a state-run guest compound reserved for high-level foreign dignitaries). Although painted in oil on canvas in a pop-like realism as though seen through a torn cellophane wrapping, the view is of a recognizable scenic area, much like the tradition of Ming literati painters brushing well-known scenic views around West Lake. While the media is not ink and color wash on paper but oil on canvas; however, the painter is Chinese, the subject matter is a famous Chinese landscape spot and the work was done in Beijing.

At the far end of the spectrum, looms Zhu Jinshi’s expressionist landscape “The Scenery of Cézanne” (2007), an oil on canvas slathered with a thick impasto that oozes vibrant, luscious color. Born in mainland China in the 1950s, Zhu received no formal training but was tutored clandestinely by an older oil painter during the Cultural Revolution. Zhu eventually went to Berlin where he earned fellowships for further concentrated study. He returned to China to create large abstract canvases, many of them bearing titles that reference European literature, philosophy, and art. “The Scenery of Cézanne” may be European in inspiration, but this homage to the past relates to the practice of ancient guo hua ink painters who honored famous ancient painting masterpieces or passages from Tang or Song poems.

Now celebrating its 18th year as a gallery, M. Sutherland Fine Arts is pleased to display this rare selection of contemporary Chinese paintings during Asia Week New York 2017 at its new location at 7 East 74th Street (Third Floor). Please call 212-249-0428.

 

Guo Hua: Defining Contemporary Chinese Painting

Asia Week New York 2017

Opening Reception Friday, March 10, 6-8pm

OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND MARCH 11-12
Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm

ASIA WEEK HOURS Daily, 11am-5pm

And viewable through Saturday, April 29 by appointment

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Hsia I-fu, (c.1920–2016)

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It is with great sorrow that we share with you the recent passing of Hsia I-fu, who passed away on October 1.  Hsia had a long and rewarding career with numerous exhibitions throughout Asia and internationally, including frequent solo and group shows at M. Sutherland Fine Arts.

Hsia’s work is in the collection of many private collections and museums, among them: the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, The Norton Museum of Art, Florida, the Princeton Art Museum, the Newark Museum of Art and the Sackler Museum at Harvard.

He was loved and admired by many.  His light and talent will be greatly missed.

Additional information at: Hsia I-fu

We’ve Moved!

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After fifteen loving years on 80th street, M. Sutherland Fine Arts has relocated to tony East 74th street, nestled between 5th Avenue and the UES Apple Store.  Please update to find us now at:

7 East 74th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10021

All other contact information remains the same.  Currently the gallery is open by appointment.  Stay tuned for information about our grand re-opening!

HUNG HSIEN: A Singular Brush | Asia Week 2016

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Hung Hsien is the most intriguing artist I’ve shown in the fifteen years of M. Sutherland Fine Arts. With Hung’s exhibition during Asia Week 2016, it is my hope that the art world will take notice and recognize her singular position in the pantheon of modern Chinese painting.

I first met Hung Hsien when I was a graduate student in Lawrence, Kansas, in the late Seventies.  I was astonished by the fantastic forms in her pictures, her striking pastel palette, and the abstract tension of the compositions. The paintings left an indelible impression. In all my years of looking at contemporary Chinese painting while living in Taiwan, Beijing and Hong Kong, I have never seen anything else like this.

The pictures in this exhibition are clearly modernist, but delivered with the brush skills of a classical ink painter. They are “landscapes” but have more affinity to “mod” designs of the Swinging Sixties (think Lava Lamps and Pucci scarves) than the gong bi  (fine line style) bird and flower paintings of Hung’s famed teacher, Prince Pu Hsinyu.

As a teenager in Taipei during the early 1950s, Hung took private painting lessons from Prince Pu Hsinyu, a survivor of the Qing Imperial household, who, to this day, is regarded as one of the great 20th Century Chinese painters. Hung recently explained, “Pu Hsinyu was very old fashioned in his teaching style.  I would be given one of his compositions to copy over and over again, stroke by stroke to perfect the techniques.  Each week, I would bring my homework to him for a formal critique. I studied with him in this manner for years.”

Hung Hsien ultimately took a completely different path, separate from Pu’s other students.  As an art student and teacher in the Chicago area during the late 1950s through the 1970s, Hung was exposed to Abstract Expressionism, which profoundly changed her painting style.  She became unafraid to experiment with abstraction and allowed the traditional rock and water forms to become simply a point of departure for her expressive brush.  Mary Lawson, a University of Chicago-trained art historian, wrote that Hung Hsien’s mature works embodied “the implication of the eternal flow of nature rather than the reality of identifiable forms and texture.”

In “Ocean Rocks” (1970), the only hint of the subject is revealed in the title.  The painting’s strength emerges from the rich coloration and rhythmic brushstroke along with the “inner light” emanating from the compositional push/pull between form and void.  There is a connection to the abstracted landscapes of Shi Tao of 17th Century Yangzhou (Hung’s hometown) but also to modern 20th Century American painters such as Arshile Gorky and Mark Tobey.

Yet, without the years of discipline under Prince Pu Hsinyu’s tutelage, Hung would never have had the technical skill—and confidence—to break free of the limits of traditional ink painting. What other student of Prince Pu can boast of belonging to these subsets of influence?  And similarly, what other Abstract Expressionist can claim the technical rigor of training by Prince Pu? It is an understatement to say that Hung’s creative vision is unique.

Our Asia Week 2016 exhibition draws from only a portion of Hung Hsien’s personal collection of favorite works.  It is our hope that in the future the gallery will show more selections of Hung Hsien’s unique paintings.  Margaret and her husband, T.C. Chang, will be present during AsiaWeek 2016 Open House Weekend.

[at top, Hung Hsien, Ocean Rocks, 1970, ink and color wash on paper, 86 x 43 inches]

 

Hung Hsien: A Singular Brush

EXHIBITION CATALOG (2.1mb)

ASIA WEEK NY 2016, MARCH 12–19

M. Sutherland Fine Arts

55 East 80th Street, Second Floor

New York, NY  10075

 

OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND MARCH 12–13

Saturday and Sunday  11am–5pm

 

HOURS Daily, 11am–5pm

 

(otherwise by appointment)

BETWEEN TWO WATERS – THREE ARTISTS FROM VIRGINIA’S EASTERN SHORE

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BETWEEN TWO WATERS

THREE ARTISTS FROM VIRGINIA’S EASTERN SHORE: Moe Spector, Ann Hayden and Barnaby Conrad

For Immediate release

What happens when three urban artists move to one of the last great, undeveloped spots on the East Coast and respond to the creatures of its forests and tide-swept beaches?

The natural beauty of the Eastern Shore of Virginia is our dirty little secret. Few people are aware of it as they hurtle down Highway 13, passing boarded-up service stations and abandoned farmhouses before crossing the sublime 20-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the bustling naval port of Norfolk. But halfway down the highway is a small town with an Indian name, Nassawadox, which means “Between Two Waters”. Indeed, this narrow peninsula—10 miles wide at most—is flanked by the Chesapeake Bay to the West and the Atlantic Ocean to the East. Fields of corn and soybeans give way to forests of pine and hardwoods, then to bayside creeks, seaside marshes, and uninhabited barrier islands with pristine beaches. This is not the Hamptons; there is a rough, sobering reality to living among the hardscrabble watermen and farmers who have worked the sea and land for generations.

The three artists showing in the “Between Two Waters” exhibition chose to move to the Eastern Shore after successful careers in art-related fields in big cities like New York, Miami and San Francisco. Now each artist’s creativity is sublimely connected to his/her natural surroundings. Maurice, “Moe” Spector creates sculpture from wood and stone, capturing the essence of a shell, bird or female figure in sensuous, semi-abstracted forms.  Ann Hayden paints wry almost abstract images of birds that are hauntingly beautiful. Barnaby Conrad’s brightly-colored paintings of crabs, owls, and fig trees from his seaside farm vibrate with animist power.

We are all creatures of our environment and of our past experiences; thus I take a view informed by my background in Chinese art history.  Chinese artists believe that a successful landscape brushed in ink has the ability to transport the viewer out of their immediate, urban environment into the pristine wilderness of the painted scene.  In this spirit, M. Sutherland Fine Arts invites the viewer to whiff the salt air, hear the seabirds’ call and experience the primeval stillness of the Eastern Shore of Virginia when you visit the gallery. The show remains up through January 9, 2016.

 

 Exhibition Hours: Nov 11-14, 11am-5pm. Otherwise by appointment.

[TOP, Left] Barnaby Conrad, “Chinese Rooster” , 2015, Oil on canvas, 15 x 10 1/2 inches

[TOP, Middle] Moe Spector, “Cone Shell” , 2015, Marble and black walnut, 18 x 13 x 8 inches

[TOP, Right] Ann Hayden, “We Come from a Military Family”, 2015, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Links:

Between Two Waters Exhibition

Moe Spector

Ann Hayden

Barnaby Conrad

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the New York Times gets behind “Contemporary Ink”.

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The New York Times gives us an overview of the Asia Week offerings, at the top of the list of contemporary galleries to see…

Much of the contemporary art exhibited in Asia Week’s galleries involves recent translations of ancient traditions like calligraphy, scroll painting or ceramics. A dealer with a solid roundup of contemporary ink painting is M. Sutherland (55 East 80th Street), including work by Jia Youfu, one of the best-known interpreters of the Song painting tradition.

 

Nearby, they attribute our Liang Quan tea stain painting to another gallery, but we understand: it was a maddening crush of press events yesterday.

Read the complete article here:  NYT: Asia Week Celebrates
Our thanks to NYT Art & Design and Linda Rosier!

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“Vistas in Ink”

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1stDibs’ online magazine ‘Introspective’ has a very nice outline of Chinese landscape works on paper being offered in next week’s Asia Week, New York, with a few nice mentions about us and illustrates a few works that will be on view at M. Sutherland Fine Arts for our “Contemporary Ink” exhibition opening next week!

Have a look at: “Vistas in Ink”

Thanks to Wendy Moonan and all at 1stDibs for the excellent work.

 

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CONTEMPORARY INK – Asia Week, New York 2015

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CONTEMPORARY INK – Asia Week, New York, March 13-22

For Immediate Release

While gathering together works for the Asia Week 2015 show, we wanted to define the meaning of “Contemporary Ink” in a way that would appeal not only to lovers of classical painting but also to fans of international contemporary art.  We have pulled together several examples from eight different artists, all of whom use traditional paper and brush, ink and water-based colors.  Contemporary ink encompasses a vast range of styles from the tea-stain Zen “enso” images of Liang Quan, to the opaque tempura lotuses of Shi Ze. What is so fascinating about ink painting today is the mélange of international and historical influences that are manifested in so many different ways at the same time.  No longer are artists confined to a single style and subject matter nor are they expected to only study past Chinese masters for inspiration.   All of the artists in the gallery, however, have mastered handling of the brush and control of ink and color on paper as a common denominator.

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Hsu Kuo-huang, “The Pen Follows Where the Mind Wanders, No. 4” (detail), 2013, Ink on Xuan paper, mounted as hanging scroll

 

The paintings of Hsu Kuo-huang, who was steeped in connoisseurship of Chinese painting while working for decades at the Palace Museum in Taipei, have the deepest roots in classical painting because of this unique and profound exposure to masterworks of all periods.  In his retirement from government service, just as scholar painters in past generations, Hsu has concentrated solely on painting and has drawn inspiration from his immediate surroundings in Eastern Taiwan, most especially the Taroko Gorge.  In the past decade, Hsu has taken a leap into a more abstract, confident style, the results of which can be seen in pieces such as “The Pen follows Where the Mind Wanders.”

Huang Iming, a calligraphy artist, retired from government at a very young age, and has devoted the last 30 plus years to his art.  A fellowship at the Central Art Academy in Beijing several years ago opened Huang’s eyes to the vital contemporary art scene in Beijing and also made him realize how fortunate he was to be educated and exposed to classical traditions from his youth in Taiwan.  Because of his uninterrupted calligraphy discipline, Huang has a tremendous breath of styles from seal script to clerical script to wild cursive. Huang has developed a following internationally and particularly with a younger generation of calligraphy aficionado’s in China, evidenced by numerous solo shows in Nanjing, Suzhou and Shanghai in recent years.

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Hsai I-fu, “Green Mountains”,1999, Ink and color on Xuan paper, 68 x 91cm
 

Hsia Ifu, who is approaching his 90th birthday this year, is a quiet, thoughtful man of extraordinarily precise, consistent brush technique.  As his good friend, and my former professor, the late Chu Tsing Li wrote, “Hsia does not perform; rather after much reflection, he slowly uses brush and ink to express himself…Hsia has his own point of view and uses all of his energy to work slowly and carefully to express it.” His unique style of dry brush and scorched ink are equally successful in intimate album leaves or large scale hanging scrolls; both formats are on view in our Asia Week show.

Jia Youfu, perhaps the best-known artist in the show, is a recluse who lives much like Hsia Ifu but in Beijing.  Jia, now fully retired from the Central Art Academy, paints for his own pleasure as much as for livelihood.  His “puddled ink and color wash” technique depicts pastoral scenes that border on the abstract.  Jia is one of the few artists still alive that has been faked and sold during his lifetime.  The “Landscape, Untitled” in the exhibition, obtained directly from the artist by Sutherland, is an unusual piece due to the pale coloration and silhouette of bridge and hills in the lower half of the composition.

Zhu Daoping, also a retired professor of classical Chinese painting, uses a pointillist-like technique with his brush for evoking landscape and atmospheric effects.  Zhu hails from Nanjing but he paints from sketches from regions all throughout China.  The scroll, “ Sunset View,” was based on sketches Zhu did on a trip with students to Inner Mongolia; the rendering of the mountains, however, are eerily similar to mountains found in Han tomb paintings that have been excavated in recent decades.   The combination of influences in the painting make it thoroughly modern; no Chinese ink painters in the past would have taken the step to combine such disparate imagery and make it uniquely their own.

Fung Ming Chip, a calligrapher now living in Hong Kong, is the mastermind behind a variety of “invented” script styles.  Ming first mastered the art of seal carving and then turned his attention to calligraphy.  Ming brushes the same set of poems over and over until he is satisfied with the outcome of his efforts.   The works in the gallery represent the pinnacle of creative achievement.  An excerpt of a Buddhist Sutra was recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was shown in the recent “Ink” show in 2013-2014.  The gallery is privileged to also have a version of the same sutra on display.

Shi Ze, the lotus painter, was a student of Jia Youfu, the master of splashed ink in Beijing.  Shi Ze has taken his own path, however.  As a devout Buddhist, he views his paintings as meditations and offerings of thanks for granting him the ability to create.   His recent works, seen in the rear gallery, depict lotuses in traditional and Tibetan thanka paint. The results are technicolor jewels that take one’s breath away.

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Liang Quan, “Tea Stain, Number 3”, 2008, tea stain and mixed media on Xuan paper, 90 x 120 cm
 

Finally, Liang Quan, a classically trained painter in the Hangzhou Art Academy, has lived and taught in Shenzhen for the past few decades.  Liang studied overseas in the U.S. and Europe and developed a singular style pushing the limits of ink and paper media.  Liang uses strips of paper, dipped in ink or tea and pastes them onto a base paper sheet using traditional mounting paste.  The collages are completely international in tone; only the materials and the maker are recognizable as Chinese.  The effect defies any link to one’s preconceived ideas of Chinese ink painting.  The same goes for Liang’s Zen expressions in his tea-stain series.  By piling up loose tea leaves on a gridded paper, Liang allows the absorption of various types of tea and length of absorption to create circles of pale, blush residual color.  The act of creating the tea stain is akin to brushing enso circles to “harmonize one’s mind” in Zen or Chan practice.

 

M. Sutherland Fine Arts will be open for Asia Week 2015 March 13-21.  The exhibition may be viewed by appointment thereafter until May 2.

 

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CONTEMPORARY INK – Asia Week New York, March 13-22

M. Sutherland Fine Arts
55 East 80th Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10075
hours:

Open House Weekend, March 14-15
Sat – Sun 11am-5 pm

Weekday Hours, March 16-22
Mon-Sat 12pm-5pm

(otherwise by appointment)

 

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Hsu Kuo-huang, “A Glimpse of Wenshan Hot Spring”, 2012, Ink on Xuan paper, 27.15 x 53.15 in