Saturday, October 13, 2007

Three Chinese Painters of the 20th C.

Li Huayi (b. 1948) is my exact contemporary
who left the Mainland in the early 80's and moved to northern
California where he seems to be having quite a career
in American museums and galleries.

Kenneth Baker, of the San Francisco chronicle, wrote:

So Li's paintings challenge viewers accustomed to
contemporary art to see them as
untainted by irony.
Their sustained investment of skill
and labor persuades us that
most of his works lack ironic intent.

Can we accept them as marvels of self-justifying technical
performance? Few shows
in memory have confronted us with the
problem so powerfully.

OK -- he's not ironic,
OK -- he recalls an earlier style of painting

but .....

what's here to cherish ?

The great, monumental power sometimes found
in Sung landscape
just isn't there.

He just doesn't have a sense of spaciousness.

But this tree clinging to the cliff is touching,
and very atmospheric,

(a detail that's better than the painting as a whole)
(looks like a dead cat -- doesn't it ?)

Zhao Chunxiang (1910-1991) comes from an earlier generation
arrived in NY in 1958
where he rather obviously styled himself
an abstract expressionist

One reviewer questioned whether there
was any Chinese left in him at all --
but think that there is ---

I just don't feel any of the 1950's American anger
or disgust --
but something more like a wail of cosmic despair

or if it's got anger,
it's anger turning inward
at being so ineffectual

And finally,
here's my favorite,
T'ang Haywen (1927-1991)

he turned to this landscape format
later in life

Prior to that,
he was a typical
artiste de Paris
(above is a self portrait)

(his parents took him there as they were fleeing the
Japanese invasion, and he seems to have led the life of a
trust fund child)

The artist had no agent, no representative. Not that admirers didn't
try to help him. Curators, scholars, even other painters offered to
showT'ang how to market himself. But he always managed to gently
dissuade them.

More of his work can be found here

Whatever the painter's intention,
I insist on looking at this as
a moody, luscious
tropical beach-scape

This was one lonely, dreamy guy

Here's a piece off the web.

It seems like the perfect pattern
for the walls or table of a high-end ice cream parlor.

(it looks like my favorite flavor,
Graeters chocolate chip,
spilled, melting, and smeared on the floor-
but in a very artful way !)


there was one more painter
in the Art Institute of Chicago Exhibit,
(Wucius Wong (b. 1936) - lives in Hong Kong)
but four is an unlucky number in Chinese.

both of the above are details of a very large
ink drawing that has something to do with mountains.

I could see how this piece might grow on you
(indeed, it seems like something is growing on it)

It would be the perfect decor for a doctor's waiting room,
where the patient can exhaust all of her anxiety
by diving into the unlimited details.

It's the kind of painting that requires a captive audience.


Anonymous marly said...

To "gently dissuade" those who would market one: what luxury!

October 15, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

I get the feeling that for him -- that isolation was a necessity -though, of course, his other necessities were already met and he didn't have children.

He led a magnificently selfish life - though he may have left a better legacy than all his fellow Chinese painters who participated in contemporary galleries.

October 16, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

He sounds like an interesting character...

I thought of Emily Dickinson. I suppose from some angle of vision she was "magnificently selfish"--or perhaps "magnificently shy," like a soft sea creature that rarely leaves its shell. And she certainly left a better legacy than most who published at the time.

October 18, 2007  

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