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editorials - November - December 2005

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IT IS APPROPRIATE at the start of my Editorial for this special Chinese Imperial issue of Arts of Asia, to draw the attention of our readers in many parts of the world to the outstanding exhibition that is being held at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London from November 12th, 2005 to April 17th, 2006.

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With the title “China: The Three Emperors, 1662–1795”, the Royal Academy’s comprehensive selection is drawn from the Palace Museum, Beijing. From these, I have chosen for my first illustration (1) a hanging scroll (Spring's Peaceful Message) painted by Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione) in circa 1735 at the beginning of the Qianlong reign (1736–1795). While the two Imperial predecessors that complete the exhibition's triumvirate, the most important of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), are Kangxi (1662–1722) and Yongzheng (1723–1735).

In this Imperial issue of Arts of Asia is the plan on page 75 we first researched in 1978 of the Forbidden City. Within the moat, and near the top right-hand corner, is a small series of rectangles parallel to structures then identified as Ching Chi Ko and Yang Hsing Tien. We now know these rectangles are the approximate locations of the four courtyards, Qianlong Garden, which are being restored by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) in collaboration with the Palace Museum.

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The Qianlong Garden is unique for this four courtyard design (shown coloured green on a location plan with a perspective of the Forbidden City) (2), with it unusual rockeries and twenty-four buildings. The first and second courtyards are already open to the public. The Lodge of Retirement, when opened in 2007, will be the only interior accessible to the public. The visitor will be taken through a series of spaces from the entrance to the fourth courtyard, where the Lodge will be entered through a rear gate.

(Refer to www.wmf.org for more information on the World Monuments Fund.)

The pages of Arts of Asia strongly support Asian Art in London, which is now in its eighth year and runs from November 3rd–12th, 2005. As it incorporates the finest and most important works of major London dealers and auction houses of Asian antiques, the position of Chairman is chosen and unanimously respected by these professions.

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Roger Keverne, the present Chairman and a very prominent dealer of Chinese art in London, on this occasion is exhibiting in his catalogued “Winter Exhibition” many fine Chinese works of art and ceramics. Included are archaic bronzes (3), Northern Qi period stonewares, a Tang sancai-glazed horse, Kangxi period blue and white ceramic vases, and porcelain candlesticks of the same period, painted in famille verte enamels and gilding (4). The wide variety of jades Roger is showing, includes a gilded jade bird in flight dated to the Song or Yuan period, and a pure white 18th century jade bowl.

Briefly I would like to mention in alphabetical order some of the other prominent exhibitors, starting with Anthony Carter, who is showing an 18th century beautifully carved bamboo brushpot which was formerly in the collection of the late Soame Jenyns of the British Museum. I follow with Bonhams, who appropriately are auctioning a Kangxi exceptionally beautiful pair of blue and white baluster jars, complete with their original blue and white covers and Western giltwood stands.

The catalogue of the Grace Tsumugi Fine Art Ltd display on 3rd–11th November, illustrates the Japanese works of art they are showing, including metalwork, enamel, lacquer, inro, netsuke and sword-fittings, the paintings of artist to the court Unno Shomin (1844–1915) and contemporary paintings by Tenuo Miyake. During the same Asian Art in London period, the specialty of Malcolm Fairley Ltd is also Japanese works of art from the Meiji period. These include metalwork, enamels, lacquer, ceramics, netsuke and inro. As part of their exhibition they are showing as well a selection of contemporary lacquer by Tomizo Saratani.

S. Marchant & Son, established as long ago as 1925, and since so many years with their galleries at Kensington Church Street, are showing an 80th Anniversary Exhibition of “Chinese Jades from Han to Qing”. This is supported by a hardback catalogue in colour with an introduction by John Ayers. The company’s long achieved expertise is particularly strong in Chinese Ming and Qing Imperial porcelain, export ware, jade and ivories.

Founded in 1946 Marlborough Fine Art is one of the world’s leading contemporary art dealers holding between six and eight exhibitions annually. Represented artists are also invited to participate in museum exhibitions worldwide. The gallery at 6 Albemarle Street deals in paintings and sculpture by prominent international artists including the famous late Chinese painter Chen Yifei (1946–2005).

From the pages of our beautiful advertisements by supporters and participants of Asian Art in London, I am happy to mention Sotheby’s who in their New Bond Street rooms are auctioning in London on November 9th, in their Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale, a Yuan dynasty “dragon” jar of extreme rarity. This exceptional highly valuable example has an estimate on request from the auction house, and provenance from a private European collection.

I would especially like to mention Linda Wrigglesworth and her “Immortality” exhibition, which is running during Asian Art in London. Among the treasures decorated with longevity symbols that will be seen in their 42 Brook Street, Mayfair gallery during that period will be mandarin badges, dragon robes, informal robes, and that of a Korean scholar. Both Linda, and Gary Dickinson, a Director and gallery historian of Linda Wrigglesworth Ltd, will be present during their exhibition.

Catalogues of the works that advertisers are showing in special exhibitions, such as that of Renzo Freschi, Milan, titled “Myths and Rituals”, art from India to China, have in many cases scholarly introductions. In this next Renzo exhibition on October 15th–November 26th forty sculptures and paintings are presented from Gandhara, India and China, with twenty-four of these works illustrated in the catalogue.

Following the success for oil paintings of the Spring Auctions at China Guardian, their Autumn Auctions to be held from November 4th–7th, 2005 are being widened. Over a thousand paintings and calligraphy representing the great masters of modern China, along with rare ceramics, stamps and books are being previewed from November 1st–3rd at the Kunlun Hotel in Beijing where the auctions will be held.

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Highlights of the sale include a major work from the early years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China entitled Chairman Mao Visits Guangdong Rural Village, by Chen Yanning (5), and paintings by the living master Wu Guanzhong (born 1919), Chen Yifei, as well as younger contemporary Chinese artists.

Back in our home area of Hong Kong, three important China museums (Palace Museum, Shanxi History Museum, and Poly Art Museum) are sponsoring an Asia International Arts & Antiques Fair (AIAA 2006) which will be held at Asia World-Expo, a newly established and the largest exhibition hall in Hong Kong adjacent to Hong Kong International Airport. This antiques fair will take place from May 26th– 29th, 2006 (Friday–Monday).

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Consultant to the organisers is leading Hong Kong expert antique dealer on Chinese arts, especially ceramics, William Chak. William’s younger brother, Raymond Chak, is a partner. Among the attractions of this fair will be the exhibition of four treasures from the Poly Art Museum originating from the Yuan Ming Yuan (the old Summer Palace near to Beijing), the bronze heads of a tiger, an ox, a monkey and a pig, from the famous horological fountain (6).

The organisers are Paper Communication Exhibition Services, which is a member of Info Communication Holdings Ltd, with twenty years of marketing and exhibition experience in Hong Kong. They are publishers of a wide range of professional magazines with various exhibition themes that they organise in Hong Kong and Greater China. Presently they organise more than thirty exhibitions annually in Hong Kong and the PRC.

Another International Asian Antique and Art Fair–Hong Kong 2006, with venue Hong Kong Exhibition Centre, China Resources Building, close to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wanchai, will run from May 27th–31st (Saturday–Wednesday). There will be a benefit preview opening on May 26th (Friday evening–open to the public).

One of the main organisers of this fair is Andy Hei, of Andy Hei Ltd, well-known owner of a Hollywood Road Chinese furniture gallery. Last year, both Andy Hei and William and Raymond Chak wished to start a fair together. Unfortunately this did not work out, and as a result Hong Kong will now have two fairs with rather similar purposes and two very different locations, but close dates and timing. Both hope to coincide with Christie’s Hong Kong Spring Auctions, which are dated by the auction house to May 28th–31st.

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According to Andy Hei there will be a vetting committee and the proceeds of the benefit preview will be donated to one of Hong Kong’s major charities. Illustrated is the designer's view of the booths which incorporate the company’s knowledge and skills in wood crafts (7).

“Classic Chinese design is ageless, yet bears the signature of the modern”, says Anwer Islam, Director of the Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, Chine Gallery. “Its forms”, he continues, “are at home with the best of contemporary architecture and design, in part because they inspired many of the greatest architects and designers of the 20th century, from Le Corbusier to Tadao Ando and I.M. Pei.” In their exhibition, “Timeless Chic”, Chine Gallery explores creative ways of incorporating classic Chinese design with contemporary furnishings and interiors (8).

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“On The Road to Mandalay” is the title of an exhibition of paintings in acrylic on canvas by the Burmese artist Tin Tun Hlaing, that Zee Stone Gallery, Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, is presenting from November 17th–27th, 2005. The works of Tin Tun Hlaing (born 1969) are fine examples of the new generation of Burmese artists who increasingly are being exhibited and collected around the world. Working in a photo-realistic style, the artist paints what he knows best: Burmese culture, tradition and daily life in the countryside (9).

Monks, novices and nuns in white or crimson robes, carrying alms bowls, shelter from the sun under red umbrellas. Novice monks often study the Buddhist scriptures, silhouetted in a temple window, or resting in the shade of an ancient statue or pagoda. The figures are dwarfed by imposing temple architecture, the towers of Pagan rising out of the early morning mist for backdrop.

China 2000 Fine Art (5 East 57th Street in Manhattan) takes pleasure in presenting an exhibition of recent works by Roger Chung from October 18th–November 5th. This exhibition of thirty traditional Chinese paintings will be Chung’s first solo exhibition in thirty years.

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Born in Canton, China in 1946, he went to Hong Kong when he was twelve to study traditional Chinese painting under Zhou Gongli, who was a student of Wu Changshi and Qi Baishi. Chung moved to New York at the age of seventeen, where he attended the National Academy of Fine Arts and the Pratt Institute. During his late twenties he exhibited at prestigious venues in both Hong Kong and New York. Chung combines East and West traditions such as in his ink and colour on paper Wisteria and Chicks (10).

I would like to take this opportunity, before changing the subject, to thank all the writers and advertisers in Arts of Asia, whether from the past, the present, or in the future. There is no doubt that publishing, and continuing year after year to produce both an attractive and the most useful magazine of its kind, depends very much on the high calibre of the material that is contributed both in articles and advertisements.

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Vice Minister Xu Zuyuan speaks at the opening ceremony of the HKMM on September 8th, 2005. Seated are Stephen Pan, Chairman of the HKMM Trust; HK Chief Executive Donald Tsang; Anthony J. Hardy, Chairman, Board of Directors, HKMM; and Hong Kong opera singer Warren Mok

Dr Stephen Davies, HKMM Museum Director, and Dr Lucie Bernier, National Chungcheng University, view the exhibits

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum (11) was recently opened on September 9th, taking part of the ground floor of the restored Murray House old military officer building which has been skilfully reconstructed stone block by block on a new promontory at Stanley Village. Behind is the renovated original fisherman’s temple, and a towering tourist and residential shopping centre.

The Maritime Museum, very much a project at the heart of China Trade paintings collector Anthony J. Hardy (Hong Kong Maritime Museum Chairman, Board of Directors, whose collection was published in our January–February 2002 magazine), and others of his fellow senior Hong Kong shipping fraternity, is introduced to our readers by Dr Stephen Davies, an ex. Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commando, with a later distinguished Hong Kong University academic career, and prolific author of articles and books. “I think I can safely say that it is already one of the best, if not the best maritime museum in Southeast and East Asia. Like Hong Kong itself, it succeeds well in efficiently and effectively bridging the divide between cultures–in this case maritime cultures. It leads the visitor from the close knit world of pre-15th century intra-Asian trade (only a relatively small flow of luxury goods ever connected East and West in those epochs), dominated in its last two centuries before the European irruption by China, through the arrival of the Portuguese, into the modern era.

“Subtly it makes the point that with the arrival of the west began the initially slow and then destructively rapid eradication of Asian maritime trading networks and maritime design cultures that had been in operation for up to two millennia. That paved the way for their replacement by the new, more globalised trading world and homogenised world of ship design we know today.

“I know all the staff are intensely proud of the museum and we're very lucky to have such a keen and enthusiastic young team, newcomers to the world of the sea and ships, with whom to start our voyage.”

Immediately this Arts of Asia November–December 2005 Imperial issue comes from the presses in Hong Kong on October 8th, Robin and I will be on a flight to Germany to attend Volkmanntreffen 2005 in honour of Hans König at the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne. This is a three-day meeting, now established in the German speaking world. Its origins date back to 1971, when the carpet aficionado Martin Volkmann first invited a group of men and women to an exchange of thoughts on carpets.

Close collaboration exists with the State Ethnological Museum and the Bavarian National Museum, both of Munich, and with the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. Scientists, specialists and art historians from major universities, museums and gallery owners speak at these meetings. On the morning of October 15th, in the lecture hall of the Japanese Cultural Institute at Universitätsstrase 98, Dr Adele Schlombs and Martin Volkmann will make opening remarks followed by two lectures. The first from Professor Roderick Whitfield on “The Forbidden City”. Followed by Michael Franses on “The Great Palace Carpets of China”. Michael is the author of the cover article, “Classical Chinese Carpets 1400–1750”, of this November–December magazine.

I am looking forward with great pleasure to attending the seminar and the opportunity to meet distinguished international experts. I hope to be able to learn more on the subject and publish the information in our January-February 2006 very special Freer + Sackler Museum edition to commemorate the centenary of Charles Lang Freer’s gift to the nation. Senior curators introduce the linked Freer + Sackler that form the national museum for Asian art in the United States.

Once again at this time of the year I send our many readers my warmest best wishes for peace and prosperity. My hope is our efforts will bring more joy into everyone’s lives.



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