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Bonhams Hong Kong presents an auction dedicated to Chinese ink paintings
Qi Baishi (1863-1957), Gathering Fortune. Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll, 92cm x 43cm (36¼in x 17in). HK$3,500,000 - 6,000,000. Photo: Bonhams.

HONG KONG.- With Chinese traditional ink paintings continuing to be highly sought after and contemporary ink paintings considered the new black, Bonhams Hong Kong will present its first auction dedicated to Chinese ink paintings across the genres at 10am on 24 November at the Island Ballroom of the Island Shangri-La Hotel.

Titled ‘Chinese Paintings: Classical, Modern & Contemporary Ink’, the sale comprises 164 lots of ink paintings by old masters and contemporary artists. Works by Qi Baishi, Zhang Daqian, Lin Fengmian, Liu Haisu and Huang Binhong are complemented by those from Gu Wenda and Qu Leilei.

Highlights from the Classical section include:

Lot 604
Attributed to Zhu Yunming (1460-1527)
Calligraphy in Cursive Script
Ink on paper, handscroll
29.5cm x 380cm (11½in x 149½in).
HK$500,000 - 700,000
This handscroll contains Song dynasty poet Su Dongpo’s ‘Red Cliff Rhapsody’ in a flowing yet controlled manner. The fluid running script effectively expresses the verses from introduction, theme elucidation and transition to conclusion. Notably, it has Ming dynasty calligraphy Lu Shen (1477-1544)’s collector seal with colophons by Jiang Bao, an educational superintendent-like figure from the same period as well as key Republican era political figure, Dai Jitao (1891-1949). Dai assumed important posts such as Chinese Nationalist Party (or Kuomintang, KMT) Member after 1928, Director of the Examination Yuan of the Republic of China and Minister of the KMT Central Publicity Department. Treasured by known figures from the Ming dynasty to the Republican period, this work has a distinguished provenance.

Lot 603
Gui Changshi (1574-1645)
Qi Garden
Ink on paper, handscroll
Frontispiece 28cm x 116cm (11in x 45¾in).
Landscape 27.5cm x 395cm (10¾in x 155½in).
HK$300,000 - 500,000
Gui Changshi modelled the landscape in ‘Qi Garden’ after Yuan dynasty masters Ni Zan (1301-1374) and Huang Gongwang (1269-1354); the orchids and bamboo follow those of his Ming dynasty counterparts Xu Wei (1521-1593) and Chen Chun (1483-1544). Bamboo stems stand erect and tall in the storm, denoting resoluteness, while the leaves sway fiercely in the wind. This is his interpretation of the ink bamboo inspired by those of the Song and Yuan dynasties. Painted in 1630 during Gui’s late years, the frontispiece calligraphy was executed by his son, Gui Zhuang, with the label written by epigraphist, Luo Zhenyu. Famed collector and connoisseur Wang Jiqian’s seal further strengthens the provenance.

Highlights from the Modern section include:

Lot 629
Qi Baishi (1863-1957)
Gathering Fortune
Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll
92cm x 43cm (36¼in x 17in).
HK$3,500,000 - 6,000,000
‘Gathering Fortune’ is representative of Qi Baishi’s maturity in rendering figures having experienced ‘the change of mode in his feeble years’ (shuainian bianfa). Using his classic thick, freehand (xieyi) brushstrokes, he portrayed a man lugging a basket with a bamboo rake. Below a turned and beamed face are bold, solid lines that delineate the man’s garment, giving an overall sense of weight and a sculpted feel to the picture. A closer study reveals how Qi Baishi had absorbed the essence of freehand, ink figure painting techniques since Shi Ke (active 965-975) of the Five Dynasties and Liang Kai (1140-1210) from the Southern Song period. With varying ink thickness, tonality, dampness and the interplay of solid and void, Qi’s brushstrokes are heavy and wild, yet masterfully controlled.

Lot 628
Qi Baishi (1863-1957)
Mandarin Ducks in Lotus Pond
Ink and colour on paper, framed and glazed
84.5cm x 28cm (33¼in x 11in).
HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000
The collector of Mandarin Ducks in Lotus Pond Sir Shavarsh Simonyan served as the Minister of Education of the Armenian Republic from 1954 to 1973. In 1956, he participated in a delegation to meet Mr. Zhang Zuoruo, the Minister of Education in Beijing, with the Ministry of Education, RSFSR. This exquisite Mandarin Ducks in Lotus Pond was given to Sir Simonyan as a gift during his visit to the artist's studio. His descendant kept the painting after Sir Simonyan passed away in 1974.

Lot 691
Lin Fengmian (1900-1991)
Ink and colour on paper, framed and glazed
67.5cm x 67cm (26½in x 26¼in).
HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000
Dahlia, sometimes referred to as the ‘valley flower’, is one of Lin Fengmian’s most beloved floral themes. Revered for his sensitivity to colour, the sumptuously rendered flowers appear to be almost void of black ink. The rich and harmonious colour palette set against a background formed by layers of ink evokes vitality and prosperity. Clusters of bursting blooms are contained in a small, rounded vase, accentuated and balanced by triangular-shaped leaves. Lin’s floral exuberance also demonstrates the artist’s thoughtful regard for geometric order.

Lot 638
Huang Binhong (1865-1955)
West River Scene
Ink and colour on paper, handscroll
Dated eighty-four years old (1947)
Frontispiece titled by Ye Gongchuo (1881-1968)
Frontispiece 33.5cm x 122cm (13½in x 48in).
Landscape 33.5cm x 135.5cm (13½in x 53¼in).
HK$600,000 - 800,000
In 1934, Huang Binhong wrote Principles and Methods of Paintings (Huafa Yaozhi) in which he summarised his five ways of using the brush and his seven ways of using ink. Huang painted West River Scene at 84 when he reached full artistic maturity. In a richly intergrated style, he deftly manipulated burnt ink, accumulated ink and broken ink to express splendid ink tonalities and textures that captivate our imagination.

Lot 675
Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)
Shecui Mountain Villa
Ink and colour on paper, framed and glazed
Dated wuwu year (1978)
103cm x 47.5cm (40½in x 18¾).
HK$1,300,000 - 1,800,000
‘Jin Tian’ in the inscriptions refers to Taiwanese artist, Han Jintian (b.1941) a well-rounded painter, calligrapher, bonsai master, conversationalist and tea connoisseur. Zhang Daqian painted this work during his late years when he settled in Taiwan, portraying Han’s Shecui Mountain Villa located in Hsin Chu. In fact, Zhang Daqian titled the name ‘Shecui’ and executed this scene at the Villa as a gift to Han.

Highlights from the Contemporary section include:

Lot 762
Gu Wenda (b.1955)
Wind Series: Feng Lei
Ink on paper, hanging scroll
Dated 2003
190cm x 180cm (74¾in x 70¾in).
HK$250,000 - 350,000
Gu Wenda, aslo known as Wenda Gu, an internationally acclaimed artist, is famous for his work on text and language. Pushing boundaries in his concepts and presentation, Gu Wenda’s appropriates elements of Chinese ink painting and calligraphy. Though trained in these classical practices, Gu Wenda has experimented with them up to the point of creating characters, which for instance are not readable. While contemplating the idea of cultural boundaries and universality, Gu Wenda states that such texts are meant to evoke the limitations of human knowledge. There is also a sense of fate and chance, along the path through which Chinese characters have been formed and the fact that they could be a different shape today than the ones in use.

Lot 759
Qu Leilei (b.1951)
Three Generations
Ink on paper, hanging scroll
91cm x 122cm (35¾in x 48in).
HK$250,000 - 350,000
Qu Leilei is an innovative and influential Chinese contemporary artist who holds an important place in art history. He started his career as a founding member of the famous avant-garde ‘Stars Group’ in China. Though Qu Leilei’s paintings are rooted in the Chinese tradition, his work has a Western quality combining light and shadow. With his deep understanding of human anatomy he has created his own unique brush and ink language. Qu Leilei’s painting has a great sense of individuality as well as having a distinctly original and creative style. His paintings display the tactile values of Western art whilst still clearly maintaining the Chinese spirit, ultimately combining the best of both East and West. Three Generations portrays the universal values of family and harmony.

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