Works by Masters of Chinese Ink Painting to be Offered at Hong Kong Spring Sales

Ink painting has been an important part of Chinese art for thousands of years. Nowadays, ink painting still embodies Chinese culture, yet contemporary artists have added modern elements into it. In Christie’s upcoming Chinese Contemporary Ink sale, the works of some masters of Chinese ink will be auctioned.

The star lot of this sale is Liu Kuo-Sung’s Play of Mountain and Cloud, estimated at HK$3.2m - 4.2m. Liu is regarded as the ‘father of modern ink paintings’. He incorporated Western art concepts and techniques into traditional Chinese painting, successfully placing ink painting on the path to modern innovation.

In the summer of 2000, Liu was invited to lecture at Tibet University. He then embarked on a journey to reach Everest Base Camp where he experienced the spectacular magic of the mountains. Sunlight shone through layers of clouds which the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas were hiding behind. Upon his return, Liu began to create the Tibetan Suite series.

Play of Mountain and Cloud, executed in 2002, depicts the snowy mountains which created criss-crossing white lines set against the dark, expansive backdrop of a Tibetan sky. Liu used a special technique – peeling strands of fibre from a specially-made textured paper, to outline the mountains in white. Through repeated painting, creasing and peeling of both sides of the paper, he created the spacious atmosphere in the mountains.

The next lot is Qin Feng’s masterpiece – Series Desire Scenery No. 5141 which has an estimate of HK$1.8m - 2.8m. Raised in Xinjiang, Qin is deeply influenced by the local calligraphy and symbols. Therefore, the theme of character-like symbols is often visible in his works.

Qin himself once said, ‘I remember when I was little I would live in fantasies every day. Living in the starting edge of the Taklimakan Desert in which the skies were vast, the steppes were wild, and when the wind blew the tall grasses would bend down to reveal grazing sheep and cattle. Those fragmented and broken memories pack my current harsh, contradictory and heavily burdened existence and life experiences.’ His emotional attachment to his homeland plays an important role in his paintings.

Series Desire Scenery No. 5141 is unique among his works. Qin’s written symbols are not seen at the centre but they cluster at the periphery, connected by a complex web formed by a single red line traversing throughout the three panels, centring in the middle. This symbolizes the linking together of ideas, people or events, expressing a longing for unity or an unconscious connection that underlies the fundamental human relationship.

Ranking in number three is Zeng Xiaojun’s Wild Spirit Screen No. 2 which has an estimate of HK$1.6m - 2.2m. Zeng’s fascination with scholar’s rocks, scholar’s objects, trees, and Chinese antique furniture brings inspiration to his art.  His careful, meticulous brushstroke conveys the abstract beauty of esoteric objects.

This painting is inspired by a camphor tree which was over 1500 years old, which is located at the artist’s Beijing studio. Zeng once said, ‘The intertwined, serpentine branches have much vitality and beauty within.’ On the paper he portrayed the labyrinthine roots and twisted branches of old trees that reverberate with scholarly tradition.


Top 5 lots

Liu Kuo-Sung. Play of Mountain and Cloud.

Lot no.: 828
Created in: 2002
Size: 120 x 150cm

  • Hanart Gallery, Taipei

  • Private collection, Taiwan

Estimate: HK$3,200,000 - 4,200,000

Qin Feng. Series Desire Scenery No. 5141.

Lot no.: 838
Created in: 2014
Size: 330 x 160cm
Estimate: HK$1,800,000 - 2,800,000

Zeng Xiaojun. Wild Spirit Screen No. 2.

Lot no.: 858
Created in: 2013
Size: 216 x 318cm
Provenance: Property from an important Hong Kong collection
Estimate: HK$1,600,000 - 2,200,000

Liu Kuo-Sung. Jiuzhaigou Valley Series: the Richness of Autumn at Mirror Lake.

Lot no.: 865
Created in: 2013
Size: 80.5 x 147.7cm

  • Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong

  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$600,000 - 800,000

Liu Kuo-Sung. Metamorphosis of the Sun 42.

Lot no.: 827
Created in: 1969
Size: 78.5 x 67.5cm
Provenance: Private collection, Taiwan
Estimate: HK$500,000 - 700,000

Auction details

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Chinese Contemporary Ink
Lots offered: 84
2018/5/25|10:30am - 8pm
2018/5/26 - 27|10:30am - 6:30pm
Auction: 2018/5/28|11am