Day 3 THE TEACHINGS IN CHINESE PAINTING



The day began with a crosstown luggage lug to the ingenious city check in to handover all the heavies not to be seen again until London (hopefully). Then I was free to explore away until my 11.15pm flight.

I sought out the Gagosian Gallery in the hard to find Pedder Building where I found an exquisite exhibition of drawings and prints by one of my favourite masters of line… Alberto Giacometti. The show consisted of many landscapes and searching portraits but the one drawing that nearly killed me was a landscape consisting of only perhaps 11 lines at the bottom of the page. The blank space on the remaining 80 percent of the page was as informative as these lines. This clever manipulation of reserve space became my lesson for the day as I moved next to the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Chinese ink paintings.

I can learn a lot from Chinese painting. These works are imbued with emotion, vigourous and expressive and yet so cleverly contemplated and thoughtfully crafted. As with Giacometti the paintings carefully balance the subject with the space leaving large areas supposedly unresolved - a gift for our imagination.

I was surprised to find the antique ceramics of great interest – particularly in their relationship with painting and poetry and leadership. I say leadership because many of the emperors were either poets or painters and I wonder how this artistic sensibility would have informed their administration. 

Emperor Qianlong (1711–1799 Ming Dynasty) is quoted as saying “Craftsmen should not gather all their efforts in creating new forms but capture an archaistic sentiment in objects of art”. I believe this wholly in art but perhaps also in life - that we should have one eye on the future and one on the past - to learn from the great body of wisdom and experience that precedes us.

The second photograph I took from the train to the airport later in the evening looking back across Hong Kong harbour - it reminded me of some of my own paintings.