Chinese Art in Europe.

If you enjoy the Chinese Arts, Lingnan, Chao Shao-an or any angle of Traditional Chinese Art then I hope you like what you find here today!
Neil Armstrong. (fmip.fbip.)
Chinese Art in Europe.
Chinese Paper, China, History
The Solitary Goose by Du Fu.
by Armstrong


Tonights Chao Shao-an & Calligraphy Practice.
 RARE RESOURCE - Du Fu Poetry - 5 Translations.

The Solitary Goose
 by Du Fu

Literal translation:-
 Solitary goose not drink peck
 Fly call sound miss flock
 Who remember one now shadow
 Mutual lose myriad layer cloud
 Look utmost seem as if look
 Distressed much like become hear
 Wild duck without state of mind
 Call voices also numerous and confused

Embellished Translation:-
 The solitary goose does not drink or eat,
 But flies and calls - misses flock.
 Who remembers this one shadow,
 They've lost each other in myriad layers of cloud.
 It looks into the distance: seems to see,
 It's so distressed, it thinks that it can hear.
 Wild ducks, by instinct
 Also call with numerous confused voices.

I believe the poet sat and studied the attentive stare Geese have when they're distressed. Heads high, eyes alert. Actions skittish.
 And he was emotionally aware of the Goose's distress.
 As it called in dismay, so did the Ducks return a call or anxious alert.

OK, It's a Kingfisher... Not a goose in my painting. But it was inspired by Lum Weng Kong and I wanted to paint it as he has done a superb Kingfisher recently.
 My calligraphy is simply being practiced. I am not a Master of the Chinese Character.

Neil Armstrong.

Sunday, February 17, 2019, 11:29 PM
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by Armstrong

Translation:- If you do not Observe you do not learn!


A lesson I learned by using Chao Shao-an as a Master by Example.

Some people look at a painting and think, "I could never do that!" and walk away.

Let me tell you that everybody who ever did a painting was human.

I was struggling years ago and could not find the way to get the work on paper that my minds eye wished to see.

The solution was to tear my paper in half and paint smaller. Work on making the subjects tinier.

For some reason this worked and suddenly my art became something I felt a little proud of.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 11:32 PM
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Chinese Paper, Paintings
Progress always... Chao Shao-An.
by Armstrong

Mustard Seed Garden Lesson. 

Sometimes the difficulty is stepping outside the standard lessons line and not overvaluing that precious and very expensive piece of Chinese Xuan paper and saying, OK, let's wander off into something different.

It can be very easy to stay on track and keep to the rules. Today I post a p[ainting which in the end took on four different hues because I tried to find out why the image didn't work. the painting.
the reason it didn't work was that the flowers were very off balance. the reason? That the flowers were always off sided???
My Wife has just has  a brain tumor removed. After wakening from the initial operation and having to go into a second emergency operation she awoke finally paralysed down her right side and initially could not speak.

My painting continually came out one sided. This is absolutely true.

So these next few posts are from that period where I tried to find a solution to the painting only to have it pointed out to me by a friend half way across the world.

Neil Armstrong.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 11:17 PM
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Ink Sticks, Chinese Brushes, Chinese Paper, China, Paintings, History
Midsummer 2017.
by Armstrong Raggedy Bird Chao Shao-an painting chinese arts

4th August 2017. It's a beautiful world.
Chinese Art Supliers we trust!

If you're determined enough you will slowly start to see the attitude of the brush resemble Chao's work, or whichever Master you work and learn from by Example. It is a slow road for most and I will never claim I am now or ever will be a Master.

That would be foolhardy.

For one thing I have never been brought up in China, nor have I had the life of a Chinese person.
Nor have I worked, eaten, breathed slept and survived in anywhere Chinese.

So, that massive side of Chinese spirituality will always be missing.
I am western conditioned, regardless of the fact that I hate that branding.

Lucky for us, in the 2000's we can purchase from China the art materials we so badly need from any number of outlets advertising across the world. 

Two that I particularly love and trust enough to spend copious fund swith are and because the quality, material range and speed of service as well as the perfect degree of one to one communicationmakes these suppliers the top of anyones list.... if you're serious about the Chinese Arts.

I, for one, cannot stand to use anything that is strictly not traditionally Chinese. Nor do I enjoy using liquid inks, I more prefer to make that black ink from an ink stick because I know that sticks history and I know the forests it came from and I can see it in my minds eye....... and its what the Chinese have done for so many ages past.  

As with the paper. As old as I can afford it. I prefer that off white look to it. Tatty edges and torn into shape.

It's something that starts to grow on you spiritually as you as you study the art more and more. It is as if the fibres of Chinese something slowly integrate and help you see what should be there, as opposed to what you thought ought to be there instead.

It is a gentle journey, and one I respect in that THIS is CHINESE not Western. I use Chinese stone for the seals, Chinese bamboo for the brushes. It is as if something has suddenly repelled me from the western side of Art.

I do not look too deeply as to why I enjoy it so much. I simply enjoy what feels to flourish as time crawls on. I am me. I am English. But not neccessarily by nature.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 10:00 PM
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Ink Stones, Ink Sticks, Chinese Brushes, Chinese Paper, Water Bowls, China, Paintings, History
Chao Shao-an Practice. But what of others?
by Armstrong
"In Situ". Studying hard the practice of Chao Shao-an style Chinese Painting!
But Phones are definitely
not worthy of displaying our Works?

It's been a while since I've felt the need to write something inside this Blog.  Actually, its not a blog, it's more of a standard website from the days of the 1990's in so far as it allows full width formatting and shows the Paintings I work on and from in large detail. Big enough to see without pussyfooting about with fade in galleries and giant arrows on the images. I hate that.

Artists need  S P A C E . Not between the ears either.
The ability for other artists to display their work seems to have been crushed with social media sites. I host with HeartInternet utilising the fastest servers on the planet without limits on space or bandwidth because you need something of a vehicle to display what you're doing in the Arts with impact.

Phones are not browsers.
Too many people are sadly dependant on squinched up little images shown on what basically amounts to a Phone site. How on earth we're supposed to impress a client or potential customer with an image three inches across baffles me and the design of sites that are "phone shaped" and only utilise the middle third of a screen...... and that's acceptable?

Size matters.
The only way to seriously browse the web is through a proper desktop device or large laptop. If you're on a "just passing" crusade with your life and its progress and your study levels mimics this.... then so will your life achievements.
I'm afraid a postage stamp sized representation of your achievements...... kind of self declares by its size, the level of achievement to onlookers.

One Taker brave enough.
I'm happy to say that Darlene Kaplan, an American Chinese Art Enthusiast of some note who is quite achieved in this field in the states has taken up the offer I put out on a social site of having a full scale blog to post her work on.
I get the impression that it is a challenge for her as web technologies are not her hot spot but... she is ready for the challenge and already has several online prescences though sadly... some adhere to the failings stated above. 
One of her sites kind of hung off left on 27% of the screen.   Who the hell designs these things? SEE HERE Darlene's newa nd upcoming Blog....... and bookmark it because it will be worth your attention And, as you'll see, it uses the whole of that brand new monitor your new computer came with. Not just the middle third bit.
Her works are seen across the planet andif, like me, you've been in the field a while and enjoy seeing the work of others because you can now appreciate it, her posts will be worth the time it takes to read them.

Old coding still works, it's just called something ridiculous now.
In 1994 we used "variable parameters" on the pages so that it didn't matter what you viewed the site on it organised itself to fit.  Now they call this "Adaptive" as if its some kind of magic programming that's come about but in truth, its been missing for years because programmers and coders and internet designers have been lame, lazy and basically..... crap.  Spewing out nonsense sites and convincing their clientele that "This is the way forwards!"

Let us pray!
I hope that by the next decade's end we have a system where people are once again looking at high definition internet sites on large viewers because if you went to the movies and were handed a three inch handheld pocket device to watch the movie on while you walked around the refreshment booth, you'd want your money back.

Increasing Numbers to the Chinese Arts in the West.
Pleasingly, there are more and more people taking up the Chinese Arts. Sadly, too many are mixing it with Westernisms and this is a contamination not tolerated by the traditionalists in China.  That's a bit like going out for a Chinese meal and then being asked if you want some Bisto poured all over your rice.
You wouldn't.
So why play this game with something that's historically beautiful. No, I have zero toleration for Western Infiltration of pollutants in this most ancient art to the degree there is nothing western on my Art Table at all. I have never indulged in Western Style Painting. only Chinese. I am lucky in this respect as I have no habitual traits to spoil the progressive walk I demand from it.

Are you an Artist looking for a way to display your works? Bigger than the patronising social sites allow you? You can write to me and we can see what can be done.   

Neil Armstrong. 

Friday, September 9, 2016, 10:39 PM
1 comment 1 comment ( 724 views )  |  
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Chinese Paper, China, Paintings, History
The New Landscape of Chinese Ink Painting !
by RaggedyBird

The New Landscape of Chinese Ink Painting 

From "Fresh Ink," Arnold Chang's Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains (detail), 2008, handscroll, is a response to Jackson Pollock's classic drip painting Number 10.

Contemporary Chinese art has attracted so much attention in recent years that it is hard to imagine any overlooked artist or movement. But while many oil painters and conceptual artists like Cai Guo-Qiang and Zhang Huan have become art stars and millionaires, practitioners of traditional ink-and-brush painting have largely been ignored. Now, with major exhibitions in the works at U.S. museums, and with strong results in the auction houses, contemporary Chinese ink painting is finally moving into the spotlight.

"It is time for people to get to know about China in a more esthetic, contemplative way," says Hao Sheng, curator of Chinese art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where his exhibition "Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition" will open on November 20. The exhibition will pair works from the museum’s renowned collection of Chinese painting with art made in response to it by contemporary Chinese artists, many of whom are trained in classical ink painting.

Painting with brush and ink on rice paper is a traditional form of Chinese painting. "I prefer to call it 'calligraphy painting,' a type of painting that is influenced by a literary imagination and the written word," says Johnson Chang, curator and owner of Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong, who has been at the forefront of promoting contemporary ink painting for the past two decades.

"Ink art," as some curators call it, can encompass a wide range of untraditional techniques, even multimedia productions that evoke classical art and the literati tradition. "All the contemporary formats of art can combine with the tradition of ink painting," says Kuiyi Shen, professor of Asian art history, theory, and criticism at the University of California, San Diego, and cocurator (with Britta Erickson and Lu Hong) in 2007 of the Third Chengdu Biennale, which was devoted to contemporary ink painting. "Ink is an idea, an esthetic, that can reflect ideas of modern people," he emphasizes.
Focusing on artists who demonstrate a relationship to the past, Hao Sheng found a surprising range of approaches within the ten he selected for "Fresh Ink," from the Chinese American Arnold Chang, who studied classical ink painting for more than 20 years, to the MacArthur Award-winning conceptual artist Xu Bing, who recently returned to China, after more than a decade in New York, to serve as vice chairman of Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts, China's leading art school. "These artists' relationship with tradition is very diverse," says Sheng. "There are those who seek to hold up the highest standards. Then there are others who seek to subvert them. But these challenges are also based on a deep knowledge of what the tradition is."

Scholars have been interested in contemporary ink painting since the inception of the New Ink Painting movement in Taiwan and Hong Kong, in the '60s, but "Fresh Ink" will give a wider audience an opportunity to see ink painting made by living practitioners. The MFA’s collection provided plenty of inspiration for the artists. Yu Hong, a woman artist, chose to respond to Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk (early 12th century) by painting directly on silk banners. Traditionalist Li Huayi, inspired by Northern Song dynasty scrolls, inscribed a landscape of craggy mountains, pines, and clouds on a series of screens. Qin Feng made calligraphic abstract strokes across accordion-like, towering screens. Xu Bing, known for his experimental approach to Chinese characters, took the 17th-century Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting as his starting point, scanning motifs from it and rearranging them.

"The concept of learning from the past is something that happens in all art making but certainly has deep tradition in Chinese art," says Sheng, referring to the Chinese academic training that requires students to learn by copying the masters. Ironically, many of the artists in the show had seen the classical works only in reproduction, since so many masterpieces were smuggled out of China during the civil war of the '30s through the Communist period.

"I am not attracted to ink painting because it is a hot new area," says Arnold Chang, who lives in New York. "I've been doing ink painting since I was a kid." Chang was taught by the master painter and collector C. C. Wang and also studied with James Cahill, the prominent scholar of Chinese art at the University of California, Berkeley. He thus acquired better training in ink painting than many of his colleagues in China, especially those who grew up during the Cultural Revolution, when traditional art forms were considered feudal and antirevolutionary and were strictly forbidden.
For the exhibition, Chang chose a non-Chinese work, Jackson Pollock's Number 10 (1949), and produced a landscape of similar dimensions. "I am a contemporary artist, yes, but how do we define contemporary Chinese art? Is it contemporary art done by Chinese people? Or is it Chinese art done by contemporary people?"
Placing himself and his art in the latter category, Chang acknowledges that works like his appeal mostly to those already steeped in the classical tradition. "If it opens up the world of actual Chinese painting to contemporary audiences, then I would feel completely gratified," he says.

In contrast to Chang's conservative approach, many Chinese artists are taking liberties with what is sometimes called the "ink esthetic." Qiu Zhijie, for example, is a conceptual artist who has made photographs, installations, and ink drawings. In 2009, when his works were not released from customs in time for the opening of a show at Chambers Fine Art in New York, he painted a surrealistic landscape, reflecting his circumstances, directly on the gallery wall.
For a recent show at Contrasts Gallery in Shanghai, curator Gao Minglu, a renowned scholar, selected artists who were considering ink from various points of view, including He Xiangyu, who made pigment from Coca-Cola, and Zhang Yu, who made pictures entirely from his inky fingerprints. "In the past, ink painting was a very elitist sort of thing, but now contemporary artists use it to address daily life," Gao says.

"My main focus is to look for works where the artist is still resonating with the past in some way," says Maxwell Hearn, curator of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who is planning a contemporary-ink survey show. His recent exhibition "Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)" gave audiences an idea of how a 20th-century master of ink painting prepared for his projects.
Although Xie represents an older generation, his estate was an invaluable find, because it included sketchbooks and tracings that had clearly been used to make the seemingly spontaneous paintings. "I had always had the idea that Chinese artists meditate for three days in front of a blank piece of paper and then create beautiful masterpieces.

But, no, Chinese artists, like Western artists, make preparatory sketches," Hearn says.
Most museum curators in the United States have been trained in classical but not contemporary Chinese art, and they would like to build a bridge between the two. Ink painting is popular in China, where it is practiced by amateur enthusiasts as well as trained artists. It has generated important shows. In Hong Kong, where there is a large community of collectors and supporters of ink painting, dealer Alice King is spearheading a movement to establish a contemporary-ink museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

"It is something that the West hasn't really understood or been keyed into, but anyone with an understanding of ink painting sees that it is one of the really important movements at the moment," says independent curator Britta Erickson, author of On the Edge: Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter the West, who is currently working on a series of videos about contemporary ink painters.

There is certainly a growing interest among Chinese collectors for works by 20th-century masters of ink painting. In May of this year, Aachensee Lake (1968) by Zhang Daqian sold for an astonishing $14.8 million at China Guardian Auctions in Beijing. The figure rivaled records achieved by such contemporary art stars as Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun and demonstrated the strength of the market for modernist ink paintings in mainland China. Just weeks later, Christie's Hong Kong made more than $27 million in a single afternoon sale of modern Chinese paintings, with works by Fu Baoshi and Xu Beihong attracting bids topping $1 million.

Now the question is whether this enthusiasm will spread to contemporary practitioners of ink painting. The record for a contemporary artist is $976,569, for Xu Bing's The Living Word (2001), which is strong but pales in comparison to prices for the top-selling Chinese oil painters. "We have been concentrating on new ink painting because it is much more undervalued and modest in price, so people can build good collections in it still, and I think there is a lot of very interesting work being done in it," says New York/London dealer Michael Goedhuis, who represents several artists included in "Fresh Ink," such as Liu Dan, Qin Feng, and Li Jin. He says he has works by them available for less than $75,000. (A more traditional painter, Li Huayi, who shows with Eskenazi Limited in London, sells for between $300,000 and $1 million.)

Contemporary ink art is featured in galleries specializing in contemporary Chinese art around the world. In New York, it can be found at Chambers Fine Art, Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, and China 2000 Fine Art; in London, at Michael Goedhuis and Eskenazi; and in Hong Kong, at Alice King, Hanart TZ, and Schoeni Art Gallery. At Chambers Fine Art, works by Qiu Zhijie sell for $20,000 to $200,000, while Wang Tiande, who creates calligraphy with cigarette burns on rice paper, sells for up to $150,000. Ethan Cohen also shows Qin Feng, for prices as high as $500,000. Qin Feng, whose works have fetched $450,000 at auction, has created a series of silk screens with Pace Prints, priced at $2,500 to $10,000 for each print.

"We see that interest in contemporary ink paintings is expanding, and the strongest interest seems to be among collectors who are already interested in modern Chinese paintings," says Elizabeth Hammer, Chinese-art specialist at Christie's New York. "However, I think it unlikely that contemporary ink will follow in the footsteps of contemporary Chinese art, as the collectors interested in these two areas, and the type of marketing and exposure dedicated to each, have been and continue to be quite different."

One obstacle cited by those involved in this market is that Westerners have little education in classical Chinese art, so they have not developed connoisseurship in the field and may not be sensitive to the nuances or able to pick up the references in these more contemporary artworks. "I think about this all the time, because I am working in a museum in America and I am showing some of the finest objects of the Chinese tradition," says Sheng. "How to get people to accept that these works are so beautiful and so important is a challenge."

He hopes that by pairing classical and contemporary, he will help the audience understand the works. "I think when we show contemporary and classical works together, the interpretation goes both ways. The classical works provide historical background for the new works, while the new works offer a new interpretation for the old ones."


Thursday, May 26, 2011, 05:38 PM
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Chinese Brushes, Chinese Paper, China, Paintings, History
Wang Fangyu (1913 1997)
by Armstrong

Wang Fangyu (1913–1997)

In looking at the calligraphy of Wang Fangyu it may be useful to bear in mind several tenets of traditional Chinese thought:

1)  Calligraphy and painting have the same origin in the earliest writing of China, which was often pictorial and gestural in form.

2)  Calligraphy is an unmistakable image or aura of the writer, as clear a reflection as his words, his appearance or his public actions.

3)  The forms and gestures of calligraphy are often understood to be in harmony with the natural forms and forces of the world, for example, the wind, the rain, the flight of the birds.

4)  All of the calligraphy of the past – the graphic record of human consciousness – is a vital repository of sources and references.

The art of calligraphy is the most vivid and direct recording of a creative process among all of the arts of the world.  Every stroke and dot is an instant image of a physical action embodying aesthetic and expressive impulses.  It is also the oldest and – measured by number of artists and works – the densest historical body of art extant, rivaled perhaps only by poetry.

These facts make all the more remarkable and exciting the achievement of Mr. Wang.  Forbidding indeed is the challenge of the past for any calligrapher living in the late twentieth century.  To master and change a tradition so dense, brilliant, and ineffable is a goal few have been able to approach, through there has been no dearth of aspirants.  Indeed, it appears that we are in the midst of a true revival of the ancient art of calligraphy, one that will ultimately clarify itself into a major historical era in the evolution of the art.  Why, in a age seemingly preoccupied with the problems of the present and the future, should there be this resurgence of interest in the most ancient of the arts of Asia?  The other traditional arts, notably poetry, painting, and drama, have been buffeted by the cataclysmic events of our time.  Calligraphy alone has remained relatively unaffected, quietly continuing to write out its story.

The answer, I believe, lies in the probability that calligraphy is the tangible embodiment of the racial and cultural memory of the Chinese people.  Its origins lie in the fire of the oracle of Shang; its history draws into its structure the thought and emotion of the countless individuals – artists, scholars, monks, priests, and warriors – whose lives are the history of China; and it exists today as the embodiment of a nation’s mind and memory.

No one understands this better than Wang Fangyu.  In his art is the past and the present, the individual mind and the mind of a people. His perception of experience is the subject of his art, and the history of the art is the space through which his brush writes.  Looking at Mr. Wang’s images of himself, of his world, and his experience is to see one artist reflecting upon his life, his language, his art, and his history – reflecting upon roots sunk into primeval soil, and upon a heritage he himself is continuing to define.

Richard Barnhart
Professor of Art History
Yale University

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 09:14 PM
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Chinese Brushes, Chinese Paper, China, Paintings, History
Introduction of Chen Chi (1912-2005)
by Armstrong

Introduction of Chen Chi (1912-2005)

Many people who have been inspired to write about Chen Chi, including Pearl S. Buck, have dwelled on his mastery of the brush, extraordinary depth of feeling and profound philosophy of life.  When I first met Chen Chi, I was immediately impressed with his energy, indefatigable optimism and quest for peace and harmony in the world.

Chen Chi was born in 1912 in the town of Wuxi, near Shanghai shortly after the 1911 Revolution, a time of never-ending wars, which made survival difficult during his youth. During the 1920’s and 1930’s Chinese artists were deeply affected by the ferment of creative ideas emanating from the West.  In his earliest work Chen Chi was strongly influenced by these new currents, which left an indelible imprint on his approach to art and in 1947 he left China for the United States where he continues to reside and exhibit his paintings.

In April of 1999 the Chen Chi Art Museum was officially opened in Shanghai, not only as a place to display Chen Chi’s painting, but also to promote an international exchange of art and education.  China’s President, Jiang Zemin, himself wrote the dedicatory inscription “Chen Chi Art Museum” as an act of personal respect and tribute to the artist.

Because of the artist’s deep concerns and commitments, it is not coincidental that Chen Chi has been chosen as the first living Chinese artist to be honoured with a one-man retrospective of his oeuvre in Versailles.  This historic exhibition is being held in conjunction with the first World Cultural Summit which took place at the Palace of Versailles in June, 2000.

Chen Chi’s painting embraces a large diversity of styles, ranging from traditional Chinese watercolour techniques to boldly Impressionist modes in which the subject of the painting often disappears in a swirl of intermingled colour masses.  Some of his paintings are naturalistic, and others are more abstractly oriented, but much of his work derives from intense observation of nature such as the changing seasons and the constant presence of the sun and moon. 

Chen Chi has received numerous honors, including the Special Award for the Watercolor of the Year and the American Watercolor Society’s Bicentennial Gold Medal. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Watercolor Society since 1959 and is a life-long Academician of the National Academy of Design. His works can be found in many public and private collections, foundations, universitites, corporations, and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He has held many one-man exhibitions, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Bertha Saunders
The David Rockefeller Collection

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 09:12 PM
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