IMPORTANT ZHANG DAQIAN PAINTING FROM THE JIE PING COLLECTION
Chen Chih-Ping (1906-1984), a native of Wenchang, Guangdong Province, was a senior diplomat for the Republic of China. Graduated in 1927 from the National Central University, Nanjing, Chen began to teach at National Henan University in 1930 as a Professor of Law. In 1933, he served as the assistant dean at Shanghai Police Training School, and then counselor at the National Military Council from 1934 to 1943. With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Chen Chih-Ping was appointed director at the South-West Transportation Administration and later director of China-Burma Transportation Administration based in Rangoon to supervise the construction of the Yunnan – Burma Road. From the 1940s, Chen became involved mainly in foreign affairs, and was accredited to Burma as Representative of the Executive Yuan, then to Calcutta, India as the Chief Representative of Defense Supplies, where he was promoted to Consul General from 1943 to 1946. After the war, he was transferred to Manila as Minister to the Philippines for three years, and as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Philippines from 1949 to 1954, during which he was also a member of President Chiang Kai-shek's entourage to the Baguio Conference. Chen then returned to Taiwan as an Advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1955 to 56. In the next fifteen years that followed, Chen resumed his role as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotiary to Iraq, Jordan, Arab Union, Libya and Mexico successively. At the same time, he was a Chief Delegate to the United Nations Annual General Assembly from 1963 to 1971. After retiring from his Mexico posting, he resided in the United States, but continued to serve as Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Policy Advisor to the President. Throughout his civil career, he received 23 medals from the Republic of China and other countries. Chen Chih-Ping died in California on 11 Feb, 1984 aged 78.
The political changes in China in 1949 forced Zhang Daqian to leave his homeland in Sichuan, and in August 1952, Zhang Daqian left Hong Kong to reside in Mendoza, Argentina. Miles away from home, he never stopped his extensive travels. In March 1953, he flew to New York and stayed for a month. A month later, he went to Taiwan to organize his own exhibition. The time between these two excursions appears to be when Spring Mountains of Sichuan was completed.
When Daqian first arrived in South America, the relaxing landscapes and weather revived his spirits, whose joyous moods were clearly expressed in his paintings at that time. However, it wasn't long before his longing for home overpowered the excitement of the honeymoon phase. In Spring Mountains of Sichuan, Daqian wrote a deeply felt inscription, unmistakably a nostalgic recollection of the artist's homeland in Sichuan:
In the ample greenery of the tender winter,
Where will the vibrant spring come, and where too is my happiness?
The numerous sceneries of my homeland I write,
Yet who is there to read and care?
Created from memory, the landscapes of his homeland were displayed in 'boneless' mogu style, while structures are built up by layers of colours rather than outlining shapes. As Daqian traced, the mogu technique was used as early as the 6th century by Zhang Sengyou (active 500-550), Yang Sheng (active 714-743), Wang Shen (active 1046-1100), and later, Dong Qichang (1555-1636).
Daqian began painting in mogu style since the mid 1930s when works of Dong were acquired in the artist's Dafengtang collection, providing him a useful learning tool. Clear Autumn in Wu Gorge and Hua Shan are commonly seen subject matters for his mogu paintings. According to the inscription on these paintings, he identifies artists like Yang Sheng and Zhang Sengyou as his source; however, lack of originals from these artists suggests that Zhang was inspired to recreate his own unique style rather than mere copying. For Wu Gorge, he used a palette of red, white, green and blue to portray the saturated sunset; in Hua Shan, gold outlines to exaggerate the decorative factor. From the different versions of Daqian's mogu paintings from mid thirties to late forties, we can see the artist borrowed elements from various ancient artists, while gradually creating his own unique mogu brushwork, colours, and composition. In 1949, he perfected his skills to recreate Dong Qichang's Light Snow at Tongguan, one of the best examples of Daqian's mogu painting.
Spring Mountains of Sichuan was completed in the spring of 1953 at the prime of the artist, and is another extraordinary example of Daqian's unique mogu technique. Inspired by Dong Qichang and collaborating the styles of Dong Yuan and Ju Ran, the painting depicts lowlands and meandering rivers of Jiangnan sceneries. The rich vibrant colours without ink outlines create a decorative effect to the landscape, while fine delicate brushworks layered in shades of blue and green mineral pigments were elegantly put together in a scholarly, yet lively fashion.
Upon completion, this work was kept by the artist and later brought to Japan for mounting. In the late 1960s, it was presented as a gift to his old friend, well known senior diplomat of the Republic of China, Chen Chih-ping (1906-1984). This gift was treasured and carefully kept by Chen in excellent condition, and was never shown in public until now.
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