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Hsia I-Fu, A Life in Ink (1925-2016) Opening and Catalog

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Our Hsia I-Fu memorial exhibition opens this evening, if you’re in New York please stop by M. Sutherland Fine Arts between 6–8pm and join us in celebrating the life and work of this magnificent artist.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalog is available to view here in pdf:  Hsia I-Fu, A Life in Ink

The show will be up through November 17th, by appointment.

For further on the Exhibition: Hsia I-Fu, A Life in Ink

HIF-Taiwan-Mountains.1999.Cropped2

HSIA I-FU, A Life in Ink (1925–2016)

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Hsia I-Fu: A Life in Ink (1925–2016)

September 28 – November 17, 2017

 

For Immediate Release —

On the first anniversary of the death of Hsia I-Fu (1925-2016), M. Sutherland Fine Arts has organized a retrospective show of paintings from the last 25 years of this masterful artist’s life.

Martha Sutherland met Hsia in Taiwan in the late 1990s through her graduate school professor, Chu Tsing Li. Although he had never traveled to the United States, the artist immediately welcomed the Mandarin-speaking gallerist and agreed to representation in the U.S. Opportunities for international recognition as a Chinese artist living in Taiwan were rare at the end of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, Hsia’s works can now be found in dozens of major collections in the United States, from teaching museums at Cornell, Princeton and Harvard, to museums and private collections across the Untied States.

Hsia was born in Shandong Province in the 1925 to an educated family . As a youth, he received private painting instruction in both bird and flower and landscape traditions. Even in his later years Hsia would laugh and remark that he owed his exacting, almost obsessionist painting style to the influence of his grandmother, an accomplished lacemaker. Hsia passed the strenuous qualifying exams to enter the prestigious Hangzhou Art Academy in 1947 but because of the political turbulence, he was forced to withdraw. In 1949, he escaped to Taiwan and started from scratch to build a new life in Taipei. He worked in advertising, photography, graphic design, and interior architecture until the late 1970s when he turned to painting full time.

Hsia’s paintings harken back to the monumental landscapes of the Sung masters, such as Li Cheng and Xu Daoning. Yet on careful examination, his brushwork and inkwash style reveal a clearly contemporary vision. His unique brush technique demands thousands of minute strokes over the course of days, and sometimes weeks, to construct massive, weighty rocks and mist-wrapped mountains. The rock forms have a sensuous, anthropomorphic quality with a high contrast of light and dark, more closely aligned to a Western concept of light and shadow. Hsia once remarked that he studied the masterworks of Nanjing 17th Century eccentric master, Gong Xian, in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. He tried to capture the essence of Gong is his own miniature landscapes and smaller album leaves, then moved up to table top and grand scale works. Hsia’s dense brushwork, whether in a monumental hanging scroll or a miniature album leaf, is unmatched by contemporary ink painters. Around 2007, Hsia turned to a new brush vocabulary of repetitive fine lines for grasses as a counterpoint to the weighty rocks.
Hsia never lost his delight in the natural world, especially the mountains and seascapes of his adopted home of Taiwan. He hiked in the mountains well into his eighties, making rough sketches to enlarge and embellish back in his studio. He and his wife were devout Buddhists who supported religious charities by donating their time and proceeds from painting sales.

A year before the artist’s death, Sutherland ventured to the port city of Keelung with Hsia and several other painters to see a contemporary painting exhibition. Although it was July and the heat and humidity were stifling, Hsia bounded up the stairs of the parking garage with joyful enthusiasm. Even at 90 years of age, Hsia had an infectious joie de vivre. His daughter, Summer Hsia, remembers that her father told the family several days before he died that he wasn’t leaving them forever—that he was simply “going traveling” and would be reunited with them someday soon. Each painting in this exhibition offers a glimpse of Hsia’s indomitable spirit.

[At top, DETAIL – Hsia I-Fu, “Taiwan Mountains”, 1999, Ink on Xuan paper, 69 x 98cm]

2016, Ink and color wash on paper, mounted as hanging scroll, 53.15 x 27.15 inches

‘Guo Hua’ is Go!

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Our opening weekend and reception for “Guo Hua: Defining Contemporary Chinese Painting” have been a rousing success!  If you’re out braving the historic ‘Light-Dusting 2017’ of our current winter storm, please drop by the gallery today until 5pm and through the final weekend where the gallery will be open from 11am –5pm for viewing.

We’d like to thank both The China Press and Artfix daily for their support for the show and mentions specifically on the new Hsu Kuohuang paintings.

HKH-CROP4-Seeking-the-Way-in-a-Spring-Mountain-2016-CORRECTED

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

hsia-memorialphoto

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