My Favourites

The Met has many fabulous paintings.  I love especially Zhao Mengjian’s delicate bai miao Narcissus handscroll, and the exquisite dan cai  Pleasures of Fishes handscroll by Zhou Dongqing.

In Shanghai Museum I was delighted by a handscroll of orchids by Zheng Xie (Zheng Banqiao) – I love his bamboo paintings as well.  Here is just a glimpse from my photos:

Zheng Xie Orchids, Shangha Museum

I was very fortunate to see Bada Shanren’s Flowers on the River at the V&A’s exhibition of Chinese masterpieces.  it also included the wonderful Nine Dragons scroll.

Xu Gu is also a favourite, especially his mad-eyed goldfish.  He also painted squirrels and this frantic catHenry Li talks about Xu Gu’s work.

Not to be confused – Wu Changshuo and Wu Guangzhong – the first is amazing, and I love the the latter’s free style.

The Fascination of Nature is a wonderful handscroll by Xie Chufang, with exquisite plants, insects and other creatures painted in Song dynasty meticulous style.  At first glance it seems an idyllic evocation of nature, but then you notice the lurking snake and toad,  and the butterfly helplessly carried along by a winding column of ants.  It is probably a protest at life under the new and brutal Mongol Yuan dynasty.  One of the contemporaneous inscriptions says “Small insects labour to eat, each to his own, Hiding and spying they ambush each other.  immoral men seek profit not according to justice.  Their wisdom is also the level of those kinds”.

Fantastic to be able to see famous Chinese painters in action: