Fang Xiang – 2007
Scarlet and Black
Scarlet and Black
Contemporary art is currently leading the market at the auctions; even the ever-popular realist works are playing second fiddle, not to mention the traditional ink paintings. In our exhibition entitled “Scarlet and Black” and its eponymous catalogue, Fang Xiang for the first time presents his ink without colour works, bravely going against the current tide.
In 2003 and 2004 Fang Xiang was painting on porcelain at Jing De Zhen, using ink without colour. Later he decided to transfer this style onto rice paper, which represents the paintings in the “Black” part of our exhibition. Whilst creating these paintings Fang Xiang didn’t use ordinary, mass-produced ink, instead he used ancient ink handed down from family elders and he also used special rice paper. The result is that his paintings have a softness to them, they are filled with rhythm and variation and the scholarly nature of his works is also emphasized. Looking at these works we are transported to a by-gone era.
In this catalogue the “Red” represents the continuation of our previous catalogue “Canton Surprise” the colour is very modern and the media Fang Xiang uses in these paintings is a blend of Chinese and Western. A while ago we tried to make one of these “Red” paintings into a woodblock print, but we failed because there were just too many colours. Fang Xiang’s composition is a mixture of Western perspective and traditional Chinese non focus perspective, sometimes the arrangement is realistic and plausible, sometimes it is almost abstract and improbable. In this way Fang Xiang allows us to view his beloved houses and courtyards from more than one angle.
Fang Xiang’s work “The Harvest Year” was created during his mature period. It was nominated for a gold medal at the 9th National Fine Art Exhibition, in the end receiving the silver medal. During this period Fang Xiang painted larger sized works, he used more water, more colour and more ink blended together to create his courtyards and houses, which are complex and mysterious. The flowers, trees and plants on the other hand are vibrant in colour. We have carefully selected some pieces from that period and have included them in our catalogue to demonstrate more comprehensively the artist’s artistic development.
Fong Yuk Yan
Fang Xiang bears the same surname as me; the character is read Fang in Mandarin and Fong in Cantonese. In China there is a saying : “Anyone who bears the same surname belongs to the same family” Partly because of this connection, I have always kept a close eye on him.
Fang Xiang first began to become known to overseas collectors in the early Nineties with the help of City Gallery in Hong Kong.
Because he had a contract with another gallery, we never discussed business during that period, but when in the mid Nineties the owners of City Gallery closed their business and left Hong Kong, they kindly suggested to Fang Xiang that I represent him overseas. For various reasons it didn’t work out , and we sadly lost Fang Xiang to a gallery in Singapore.
We therefore only started to represent him in 2001 when this agreement had expired. During the ten years we waited to work with the artist, he received a Silver Medal in the All China Fine Art Exhibition, an honour greatly prized in artistic circles in China.
Fang Xiang’s paintings are very peaceful, even contemplative, but at the same time they are rich in colour and texture. Similarly, the artist himself is a tranquil, peace-loving man, but his passion for art is very strong.
One can understand completely from his paintings the deep love the artist has for the houses and countryside where he was born in rural China, and the contentment that springs from this contemplation encourages the viewer to appreciate to the full his own life.
Fong Yuk Yan