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“Vistas in Ink”

By Press

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.


CONTEMPORARY INK – Asia Week, New York 2015

By Press

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.


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.

small HIF-Green-Mountains--68x91cm-1999

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.

mod - Tea Stain No

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.



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

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

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

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

(otherwise by appointment)



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



Asia Week New York

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Save the date!  Asia Week New York is approaching, March 13–22.

M. Sutherland Fine Arts will be open:

March 14–15 Open House Weekend, Saturday–Sunday from 11–5pm

and March 16–21, Monday–Saturday from 12 Noon–5pm



A conversation with Hsu Kuohuang

By hsu kuohuang

Gallery owner, Martha Sutherland talks with Hsu Kuohuang about his new exhibition “Views of Taroko Gorge” (on view by appointment at M. Sutherland Fine Art through January 2015).

MARTHA SUTHERLAND [MS]: When did you start serious study of painting?
How/why did you decide to concentrate on ink painting?

HSU KUOHUANG [HK]: Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been fond of the arts
and laid a solid foundation in learning painting and art design, both in Chinese
and Western media. Then, around 1970, I came to realize that traditional ink
painting would be my lifelong devotion; I have loved it even more because of
my fondness for calligraphy.

MS: Why did you choose Taroko Gorge as your inspiration for these paintings?

HK: In fact, as early as in the 70s, I visited the Taroko Gorge in Hualien. And I
was also intrigued by the early works of my teacher, Mr. Chiang Chao-shen,
one specifically called “An Album of Travels to Hualien”, painted in 1968.
After seeing that, I went to see the towering peaks and hills of Taroko’s unique
landscape quite a few times. In the summer of 2004, I decided to settle down
in Hualien after my retirement from the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
Quite naturally, I get to transform what meets the eyes into artworks through
my direct contact with the beautiful landscape views of Hualien.

MS: What method do you use to compose your art? Do you first photograph
the views or sketch? Do you ever paint “plein air?” What is the process
for creating these landscape paintings?

HK: Normally, on my regular hikes in the mountains, I gather my ideas through
my sketching. Sometimes I use a paint brush to do the sketching. But mostly
I prefer to use either a pencil or a pen, or even a felt-tip pen for the sketches
because carrying painting brushes and ink stones are not as convenient. After I get back to my studio, I often need to recompose the original sketches when
I apply them onto the paper. For instance, I need to consider the dimensions,
think about taking a horizontal or vertical composition, things like that. When
I paint, I prefer to use light ink to decide an overall composition. Then, I would
use different shades of ink to paint the hills, trees, houses, etc. Then come the
applying of colors several times after the ink work has become totally dry and
solid. Finally, I add the inscription and use the seal to complete it.

MS: This exhibition highlights a range of brushwork techniques in your
work. The most abstract and loose series, “The Pen Follows where the
Mind Wanders” is a departure from even the loosest brushwork from
previous works. What prompted this new and exciting brushwork?

HK: The truth is, the idea of “The Pen Follows Where the Mind Wanders”
series came from my practice of calligraphy. I used free, continuous, calligraphic
lines to paint the rocks and hills, without a definite shape in mind. It’s rather
about “a playful wandering/wondering of mind”. What is worth noticing is
that in these four-piece series, I used quite a variety of brush techniques, longer
and shorter linear expressions. The ink applications are so diverse—wet or
dry, heavy or light, and dense or sparse, along with the choice of colors. They
can be viewed as a complete set of four works or seen individually.

MS: You are one of the few artists I know that is highly proficient at numerous
calligraphy styles as well as ink landscape painting. How does your practice
of calligraphy influence your paintings — and vice versa? When you get up
in the morning, do you know that the day will be dedicated to calligraphy or
to painting? Is brushing calligraphy done everyday as a warmup to working
on ink landscapes? Or is it the opposite?

HK: I spend more time on the practice of calligraphy than on painting. It could
be that I like the abstract beauty of calligraphic brushwork better. Doing
calligraphy offers me a sense of freedom from the restriction of the figurative
image and framework of objects. Also, different calligraphy styles result in
triggering different sensations and inspirations. To me or many other artists who
still cling to traditional art forms of ink landscapes, there is an intertwined
and inseparable relation between calligraphy and Chinese painting.
When I do calligraphy, there are two kinds of scenarios. When I practice
after a model work (of an ancient calligraphy master), I try to capture the
subtle brushwork as well as the thoughts of the previous masters. At this
point, calligraphy can be seen as a warm-up for my creation of paintings. On
the other hand, when I create my own calligraphic works, the process is
no different from creating a piece of painting. I need time to dwell upon
the dimensions of the work and the calligraphy style that fit my sentiments
at that moment in time and the need of the work. I like to write about Tang
poetry or passages of some great literary works that I like. Aside from the
standard scripts that are about 1 square centimeter in size which usually
require several tries to complete with full concentration (and to my full
satisfaction), I usually finish most calligraphy each pieces in one sitting within
a certain amount of time; I need to finish a work with that momentum and the
fit of my feelings.



Hsu Kuohuang: Views of Taroko Gorge is on view through January 31st, 2015, open by appointment

HSU KUOHUANG: Views of Taroko Gorge

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HSU KUOHUANG: Views of Taroko Gorge

November 12, 2014 – January 31, 2014


NEW YORK –– On November 12th, M. Sutherland Fine Art opens its fourth exhibition of extraordinary works on paper by the renowned artist Hsu Kuohaung (b.1950.)  On view will be a collection of sixteen new landscape paintings: framed and traditionally mounted as hanging scrolls.

The gallery’s relationship with Hsu goes back over 35 years, when Martha Sutherland met Hsu Kuohuang in a seminar on connoisseurship of the Four Great Yuan Masters at National Taiwan University, in 1979.  The seminar, a first of its kind, was taught by the leading expert in the field, Chiang Chaoshen, through studying original examples of paintings from the National Palace Museum collection.  For Hsu, it was just the beginning.  He learned not only the advanced skills of painting and calligraphy from Chiang but also profound connoisseurship of Chinese classical ink painting.

Hsu worked at the National Palace Museum for over 20 years where he continually studied the original masterpieces of Chinese painting in the former imperial collection.   At the same time, he painted his own works, and practiced calligraphy of all script varieties.  No one else practicing Chinese ink painting today has Hsu’s deep background and ability to transcend this context in his personal work.

Hsu Kuohuang’s fourth exhibition at M. Sutherland Fine Arts draws its inspiration from the breathtaking peaks and gorges of Taroko Gorge. After retiring from the Palace Museum, Hsu moved back to his wife’s hometown of Hualien, on the eastern coast of Taiwan, near the Taroko Gorge National Park.   Based on years of sketching and photographing on hikes in the park, Hsu has completed a series of paintings inspired by the rare, extreme views of the Taroko Gorge scenery.    The rushing blue-grey torrent of the river winds through a rocky gorge whose vertiginous angles seem to defy the laws of physics.

Hsu dramatizes the extreme landscape forms with cropped compositions and shimmering brushwork.   His painting style has grown more confident and experimental through the years, as in the series  “The Pen Follows Where the Mind Wanders,” where Hsu paints in abstract drip and drops.  These recent works display the inner strength and freshness of an artist at the pinnacle of his creative powers.  He is not afraid to lend ambiguity to rock and landscape elements to suspend reality in the scenery, thereby encouraging the viewer to linger over the virtuosity of his brushwork as abstract technique.  Students of Chinese painting history can see the links between Hsu and early 20th Century Shanghai School artists, back to Nanjing Eccentrics of the 18th Century, and then to Late Wu School masters.  The difference is, Hsu uses these traditions as a springboard from which he embraces a modern fantastic realm, but one with subtle classical and figurative references.  Hsu’s paintings don’t “shout” at the viewer, but deftly convey a reverence of Nature, in keeping with the artist’s strict Buddhist beliefs.


HSU KUOHUANG: Views of Taroko Gorge
November 12, 2014 – January 31, 2014

M. Sutherland Fine Art
55 East 80th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY  10075
(tel) 212-249-0428


Opening Week
Thursday, November 13, Noon – 5pm
Saturday, November 15, Noon – 5pm

Open by appointment