Monday, January 1, 2018

Qi Baishi. Born on Jan 1, 1864

January 01, 1864. Qi Baishi (1 January 1864 - 16 September 1957) was a Chinese painter, noted for the whimsical, often playful style of his watercolor works. Born to a peasant family from Xiangtan, Hunan, Qi became a carpenter at 14, and learned to paint by himself. After he turned 40, he traveled, visiting various scenic spots in China. After 1917 he settled in Beijing. In this image: Qi Baishi, Crabs, circa 1930. Album leaf, ink on paper. University of Michigan Museum of Art. Gift of Sotokichi Katsuizumi, 1949/1.199.

Qi Baishi's early mentor in Beijing, Chen Hengke (1876–1923), counseled him to abandon his technical training and strive for a new expressive freedom through a calligraphic approach to painting. The subsequent transformation of Qi's style is illustrated by this painting. Each crustacean—like a single Chinese character—is formed through the repetition of the same conventionalized pattern of marks. Released from the need to visualize each shrimp separately, Qi thus was free to explore the abstract expressive possibilities of structure, ink tone, and composition and to achieve the direct, childlike spontaneity and naturalness that are hallmarks of his work. Qi's exhilaration at the possibilities offered by this method are reflected in his inscription:

If you can forget painting theory, you will not suffer from its deeply rooted bad effects. Then your brush will fly like the heavenly horse moving through the sky.

(Robert H. Ellsworth et al., trans., Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 1800-1950, 3 vols. [New York: Random House, 1987], vol. 1, p. 157)

Qi Baishi’s “Monkey Contemplating Peach” was sold for $193,830 – $258,440 in Hong Kong (Image: Christie’s)

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

You might not think I would like this, but I do. I like a lot of Oriental art and my favorite of the Qi Baishi pieces depicted here is the red bird and flowers, though they're all good. The monotone crabs are quite interesting, too.