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Sotheby's Hong Kong to Hold Spring Sale of Fine Chinese Paintings
A staff of auction house Sotheby poses beside a folding fan by Chinese painter Yu Fei entitled 'Peony and Butterfly'. The art work is estimated to fetch over 5-6 million Hong Kong dollars and will be auctioned as part of Sotheby's Hong Kong Fine Chinese Paintings Spring Sale 2010 will be held on 06 April 2010. EPA/YM YIK.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong will hold the Fine Chinese Paintings 2010 Spring Sale on 6 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Building on the success of the thematic collections offered in previous seasons, Sotheby’s will again present distinguished private collections that boast immaculate provenance and quality this spring. The collections presented include: ‘Exquisite Paintings and Calligraphy from Studio Ling Ou’, ‘A Collection of Calligraphy Couplets of Eminent Statesmen in the Late Qing Period’ and ‘Calligraphy Works from Prominent Figures of Wang Jingwei’s “Puppet Government”’. On the same day, Sotheby’s will also hold the sale of ‘Important Chinese Paintings from the Robert Chang Collection (Part 3)’. The total of over 260 lots in both sales is expected to fetch in excess of HK$200 million*.

Alongside the auction, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is honoured to be commissioned by You Yi Tang to hold ‘Zhao Shao’ang Paintings and Calligraphy from the Collection of You Yi Tang’ exhibition at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 3 to 6 April during the Spring Sales. Featuring a collection of magnificent paintings and calligraphy by celebrated Hong Kong artist Zhao Shao’ang (1905-1998) of the Lingnan School of painting, the occasion will mark the first Sotheby’s exhibition dedicated to a private collection of works by a Hong Kong artist.

Highlights include Zhao’s celebrated paintings of flowers, birds and traditional landscapes as well as themes rarely found in his work. A commemorative catalogue will also be published during the exhibition.

Exquisite Paintings and Calligraphy from Studio Ling Ou
Jiang Zhaoshen (Chiang Chao-Shen, 1925-1996), the master of Studio Ling Ou, held his debut exhibition at the Zhongshan Memorial Hall in Taipei in May 1965. Thereafter, he embarked on research work in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, where he retired in 1991 as its Deputy Director. Jiang’s private collection from Studio Ling Ou has never before been exhibited in public. Previously, individual paintings were displayed in Jiang’s living room and atelier and only a few of his relatives, friends and colleagues saw them. Sotheby’s is honoured to bring these gems from Studio Ling Ou’s collection to the market for the first time this spring.

Landscape by Zhang Daqian (Chang Da-chien, est. HK$3.2-4.5 million, was executed in the artist’s advanced years as a tribute to his friendship with Jiang Zhaoshen. It was created in March 1981 when Jiang visited Zhang’s residence after returning from Japan. As stated in the work’s inscription, this painting is dedicated to Jiang for his appreciation of the artist’s home-made beef noodles – morsels that Zhang were justly proud of. This gift also attests to Zhang’s generosity and how much he treasured friendship. Since Jiang received the work, it has been hanging in his living room, viewed only by his close circle of friends.

Other Highlights
In November 1990, Wu Guanzhong was invited to Hong Kong by the Land Development Council to render his impressions of the city on ink and paper. Therefore, he created twenty works depicting the urban landscape of Hong Kong which were exhibited in late 1991. Subjects included the legendary pre-war Tak Wan Tea House, the renovated Li Chit Street and Bird Street, all juxtaposed with modern icons in Central District and Tsim Sha Tsui. Labyrinth (est. HK$1.5-2 million) on offer this season is a refined painting from this special series.

Although it is not clear from which vintage point on Hong Kong Island Wu captured the view, Labyrinth vividly portrays and recreates the bustling scenery at the heart of this compact city. The buildings are painted from different perspectives and angles, from close-up to longer range, and with varying heights. They seem to overlap haphazardly in undulating layers, creating different geometric shapes and forms, and all jostling for limited space. Snaking around the buildings are busy roads full of traffic - a maze of serpentine lines. Despite this seemingly chaotic scene, the painting conveys a coherent picture of the Hong Kong cityscape filled with throbbing life and energy. Through the adept use of colour, and smooth, geometric lines, the artist brings to life the Hong Kong of his perception. This composition is the most meticulous of the series.

Executed in 1943, Chess Playing (est. HK$5-7 million) portrays a composition rarely found in the works by Fu Baoshi, who is celebrated for depicting historical figures. Here, the three protagonists gather around a chessboard under branches in an abandoned wood. One of them holds a chess piece, pondering his move, and is so absorbed in the game that his body is slightly inclined towards the chessboard. Crossing a leg, his opponent looks calm and unperturbed. Standing next to them is an observer, his folded arms concealed in the sleeves of his loose robe as he watches the game unfold.

Judging by appearance, the player contemplating his next move seems to be a recluse detached from the outside world. His opponent in the game is dressed like a hermit, and the observer, too, who seems to be someone far removed from mundane worldly affairs. For them, the chess game provides a temporary respite from worries. Portrayed in meticulous detail through the artist’s brushstrokes, the trio’s facial expressions indicate that chess has their undivided attention. The game also alludes to the uncertainties and strife in real political situations, and from which nobody can escape.

Lotus by Zhang Daqian (est. HK$800,000-1.2 million) is a sophisticated work executed on a horizontal scroll, presenting a scene of lotus leaves swaying in the breeze, and amongst the fragrant plants. With his skillful painting of the lotus, Zhang’s effortless composition captures the natural grace of this elegant flower. Accomplished in a handscroll style, the artistic narrative is centered on branches sprawling across the painting to evoke grace and movement. The crowns of the white lotus flowers are seen blooming vibrantly, while others are budding or concealed under a canopy of leaves. The result is a composition rich in every detail. Zhang’s forceful brushstrokes and the bold splashes of ink reveal an unruly dynamism in this painting. Extending outwards, the lengthy stalks are also portrayed with decisive force. The entire work is suffused with varying shades of ink. Their juxtaposition with light green leaves brings out the balanced contrast of light and darkness, the tangible and surreal.

Zhang’s artistic approach seems carefree and effortless, with scarcely a hint of ornamentation, and the composition appears natural in every aspect. This painting also bears a classical verse by the ancient poet Su Ziyou (the brother of Su Dongbo, a major Chinese writer, poet and artist of the Song dynasty), which complements the artist’s tribute to the lotus for remaining unsullied in muddy surroundings.

Another highlight is Playing Music by Lin Fengmian (est. HK$700,000-900,000), in which a lady is seated crosslegged, gazing gently at the strings of guqin, an ancient musical instrument she is playing. With fluid brush movements and smooth application of ink, the artist creates a picture of feminine grace. Looking at this serene scene, the viewer is introduced to a realm of enchanting music, its beautiful rhythm lingering long after. Flowers sprouting exuberantly from a nearby vase, and the dark curtains provide a marked contrast to the woman’s quiet refinement and unadorned allure. From the protagonist’s posture and costume to the musical instrument and the veils in the backdrop, Playing Music is executed elegantly in smooth and clean lines. The lack of excessive embellishment is indicative of the artist’s superior skill. The work evokes tranquility and a wealth of artistic connotations, and it is simply a pleasure to behold.

‘Zhao Shao’ang Paintings and Calligraphy from the Collection of You Yi Tang’ Exhibition
Sotheby’s Hong Kong has been commissioned by You Yi Tang to hold ‘Zhao Shao’ang Paintings and Calligraphy from the Collection of You Yi Tang’ exhibition alongside its Spring Sales 2010, featuring a magnificent collection of paintings and calligraphy by celebrated Hong Kong artist Zhao Shao’ang (1905-1998) of the Lingnan School of painting. This is first Sotheby’s exhibition dedicated to a private collection of works by a Hong Kong artist. A commemorative catalogue will be published during the exhibition.

Over 100 representative works will be on view. These span different periods of the Zhao’s career, forming a complete overview of his work. They also provide insight into his development as an artist. Many works were acquired directly from the artist himself, and are, therefore, presented with impeccable provenance. Highlights on view include Zhao’s celebrated paintings of flowers, birds and traditional landscapes as well as themes rarely found in his work. Moreover, the collection includes rarer works such as calligraphies and letters.

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