Dy­nas­ties’ de­lights on dis­play

The ex­hi­bi­tion at the Long Mu­seum’s West Bund space in Shang­hai has re­ceived rave re­views. re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

Art auc­tions so far this year have gen­er­ated sev­eral high prices for art­works from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dy­nas­ties, in­clud­ing Yuan of­fi­cial­painter Ren Renfa’s color work Five Drunken Kings on Horses that grossed 303.6 mil­lion yuan ($44 mil­lion) on Dec 4.

In­tense bid­ding in sale­rooms in­di­cate greater in­ter­est by pri­vate col­lec­tors, as they have be­come more knowl­edge­able about the two em­pires’ cul­tural depth in re­cent years.

The Dili­gence and In­tel­li­gence ex­hi­bi­tion at the Long Mu­seum’s West Bund space in Shang­hai has gar­nered great re­views for its pre­sen­ta­tion of Song and Yuan art.

Song and Yuan art­works rep­re­sent the epit­ome of an­cient Chi­nese views on na­ture and the uni­verse be­cause they evoke el­e­gant sim­plic­ity and ma­jes­tic splen­dor.

As the works are very rare they are cov­eted by se­ri­ous col­lec­tors of clas­si­cal Chi­nese art. It is also very rare to see dozens of such fine ex­am­ples of art in pri­vate hands at one ex­hi­bi­tion.

The show presents more than 80 paint­ings, cal­li­graphic pieces and an­cient books.

The Long Mu­seum, founded by self-made bil­lion­aire-turned-collector Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, now op­er­ates from three lo­ca­tions — two in Shang­hai and one in Chongqing. It houses their cul­tural as­sets, span­ning from an­tiques to con­tem­po­rary art pieces.

Wang, who runs the mu­seum clus­ter, says half of the ex­hib­ited works at the show are from their col­lec­tion, while the rest are on loan from some 20 col­lec­tors, both from home and abroad.

Xie Xiaodong, who co-cu­rated the ex­hi­bi­tion along with Bei­jing­based ink artist Hao Liang, says the col­lec­tors shared the most iconic pieces, many of which are of mu­seum qual­ity.

Xie says some of the col­lec­tors have amassed their cul­tural as­sets partly through pub­lic auc­tions. Their pieces ac­count for a bulk of qual­ity Song and Yuan pieces that have been auc­tioned at home and in­ter­na­tional sales.

Other ex­hibits are fam­ily trea- sures that have been passed down for gen­er­a­tions and have never come onto the open mar­ket, he says.

“There­fore, the ex­hi­bi­tion of­fers a glimpse of the quan­tity and qual­ity of Song and Yuan art­works in pri­vate hands,” he says.

“It pro­vides rich ex­am­ples for both or­di­nary view­ers and schol­ars Zhen­qinTu who can deepen their knowl­edge of the aes­thetic tra­di­tions that have evolved since the Song pe­riod.”

The works on dis­play in­clude Jushi Tie, a let­ter by Song politi­cian and scholar Zeng Gong. It fetched 207 mil­lion yuan at a Bei­jing auc­tion in May.

The cal­lig­ra­phy piece of 124 char­ac­ters is the fourth costli­est work of tra­di­tional Chi­nese art sold so far this year. Its buyer was Chi­nese me­dia mogul Wang Zhongjun, a part­ner in a Shang­hai art auc­tion house that plans to hold its in­au­gu­ral sale on Dec 22.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also fea­tures works that rep­re­sent the ef­forts of Chi­nese col­lec­tors to bring home art from abroad, such as Xiesh­eng Zhen- If you go

Lin Qi 10 am-6 pm, closed on Mon­days, through March 31, 2017. Long Mu­seum (West Bund), 3398 Longteng Av­enue, Xuhui district, Shang­hai. 021-6422-7636.

qin Tu (a paint­ing scroll of pre­cious birds) by Zhao Ji, or Em­peror Huizong of the North­ern Song Dy­nasty (960-1127). He was also an ac­claimed artist and avid spon­sor of art.

The paint­ing, which was once part of a col­lec­tion in the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911), was taken out of the For­bid­den City and passed through sev­eral hands un­til fi­nally land­ing in a pri­vate Ja­panese col­lec­tion.

It was sold for 25.3 mil­lion yuan at a Bei­jing auc­tion in 2002 — then a record for any Chi­nese work of art, to the Bel­gian cou­ple Myr­iam and Guy Ul­lens.

They sold the paint­ing seven years later in Bei­jing when it was ac­quired by Liu Yiqian for 61.7 mil­lion yuan after a 45-minute bid­ding war.

Also on dis­play is Gong Fu Tie, a cal­lig­ra­phy scroll by Song scholar and literati Su Shi (1037-1101). Liu bought the scroll for $8.2 mil­lion at a New York auc­tion in 2013.

The pur­chase, how­ever, sparked a con­tro­versy back home as three re­searchers from the Shang­hai Mu­seum said that it was a 19th-cen­tury forgery.

Hao, the co-cu­ra­tor of the ex­hi­bi­tion, says the or­ga­niz­ers put aside the de­bate over the au­then­tic­ity of the works, and fo­cused on the collector’s en­thu­si­asm for tra­di­tional cul­ture.

Xie says Song and Yuan art are seen as pearls in a crown, and adds that these days col­lec­tors are se­ri­ous about what they col­lect.

“They seek pro­fes­sion­als for ad­vice on cul­ti­vat­ing a dis­cern­ing taste when it comes to art and build­ing up a hi­er­ar­chi­cal col­lec­tion. They rely on strict stan­dards so that they col­lect the best works,” he says.

“Their de­vo­tion to safe­guard­ing cul­tural her­itage should be en­cour­aged.”

Con­tact the writer at linqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Top: A work by South­ern Song Dy­nasty (1127-1279) painter Ma Yuan. Above: A piece from Xiesh­eng Em­peror Huizong of the North­ern Song Dy­nasty (960-1127). (a paint­ing scroll of pre­cious birds) by Zhao Ji, or

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