Pink Lotus on Gold Screen
Assemblage of Flowers
Incense Offering Goddess
Scenery of the Alps
Budding Lotus
Water and Sky after Rain in Splashed Colour
Mount Huang in Splashed Ink
Recluse in the Summer Mountains
Zhang Daqian: A painter’s extraordinary life work (1)
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An extraordinary show celebrating the master painter’s extraordinary life and work

Regarded as one of China’s most significant artists, Zhang Daqian’s work commands enormous prices internationally. His was an extraordinary life, set in a time of immense upheaval, the echoes of which can be seen in his masterpieces created between the fall of the Qing dynasty and the rise of modern China.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong and the Xi Zhi Tang Gallery, Taipei, recently curated a major exhibition, showcasing around sixty of his works. The exhibition, Zhang Daqian: The Master, celebrated the 120th anniversary of his birth in 1899.

Sourced from both the artist’s family and private collections, the exhibition was a rare opportunity to see his early works, calligraphy, landscapes and ink portraits, and the magnificent splashed-ink paintings, scrolls and screens he created later in his life. While many pieces were previously exhibited or even auctioned, this month-long exhibition was also a chance to see some pieces never previously displayed.

Having such a large collection on display was also an opportunity to see first-hand how his style changed with maturity, from his delicate “guohua” early works – such as White Camellias – with its fine, almost European attention to botanical detail; his highly stylised and traditional Buddhist studies dating from the 1940s when he was sent to Dunhuang; his expressive portraits; and later works where traditional techniques and themes blended with impressionism and expressionism, resulting in a cutting-edge style that was uniquely his own.

One of the highlights of this exhibition was the spectacular Pink Lotus on Gold Screen – splashed ink and colour on gold screen (1965) – depicting windswept lotus leaves swirling beneath delicate pink lotus petals, juxtaposed against a glowing golden background.

Ingrid Piper / Photos Courtesy of Sotheby’s Hong Kong