Thursday, 18 August 2016

Fu Baoshi

It was reported in the press (June 2016) that a painting of Fu Baoshi (傅抱石) was auctioned recently in Beijing for a record S$47m - thie highest price paid in the sale. The 1954 work, The God of Cloud and Great Lord, has been kept in Singapore by various collectors since the early 1960s.

Fu Boashi's painting done in 1954
The painting of two fairy gods was inspired by a poem by Warring states poet Qu Yuan more than 2000 years ago. Measuring 114 cm by 315 cm, it is the largest painting of human figures by the late artist available in the market. His other similar size-size work are kept in museums in China.

Art collectors here indicated that the painting was sold by Fu's family to a Singapore collector after his death in 1965, and it remained in Singapore since. They added that the sale of the painting was a great loss to Singapore art.

One retired Chinese art writer commented: "As with many other other Chinese masterpieces owned by the older generation of Singapore collectors, we are losing them probably because present collectors and the museum authorities here do not see their values."

Fu Baoshi
Fu Baoshi had great talents in Chinese painting. After the independence in 1959, he and another artist (Guan Sanyue) were commissioned by Mao Zedong of the Communist government to paint a huge painting for display in the Great Hall of China. The painting depicts sun rise on mountains with clouds and pine trees. This painting entitled "Jiang San Ru Chi Doa Jiao" 江山如此娇。The six Chinese characters were written by Chairman Mao himself after its completion.


It was a great investment by the Singapore collector. In his old age, he is able to reap a fortune for investing in famous artists' works. However, it is a pity that time is against him to dispose of such wealth during his old age.


Write-up of this painting in Mandarin (Source;Baike.com)

《江山如此多娇》画卷堪称为世界上最大一幅用手托起的画卷,它由303块喷制好的画布缝制而成、面积达1.8万平方米。

悬挂在人民大会堂正厅的山水画《江山如此多娇》,是关山月傅抱石1959年初创作而成。整个画面气势恢宏,象征着祖国强大和江山美好。
《江山如此多娇》巨幅画卷将由三组画布组成,长度为150米,总宽120米,总面积1.8万平方米,重约9吨,仅画卷上的太阳图案的直径达5米。这幅大画卷在制作的时候,是用了303块喷制好的画布缝制而成,为防撕裂,画布面料为制作降落伞材料。为了防止国庆出现下雨等不利天气,采用防水材料制成。

此图取毛泽东《沁园春》词意,把代表性的四季山水集中、浓缩到一起,运用革命现实主义和浪漫主义相融合的创作方法,表现了祖国河山的雄奇壮美。此图境界恢宏,气魄雄健,淋漓酣畅,豪放洒脱,具有强烈的民族风格和时代感。这张画完成于建国十周年前夕,其不寻常的意义还在于,毛泽东主席亲自在画上题字,而且是唯一的一幅,其价值更是无法估量。

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Another teapot story

Yet another record price for teapot legend Gu Zingzhou's work.


This set of ten-piece Yixing ware fetched a record price of 89.60 millions RMB in an auction in Beijing in November 2015. The set consists of a squirrel/grapes decorated teapot, a tea leaves container and 4 cups with plates.

Gu Zingzhou evaluating a teapot

Gu was famous in producing excellent teapots. He would break any teapot that was not made up to his satisfaction. Hence, his works are really perfect master pieces.

In the 1980s, there was a teapot exhibition in Singapore organised by Jingfong (a renown company from Hong Kong). There was a teapot made by Gu and the asking price was $20k. Back then in the 1980s, $20k was a lot of money. All those present in the exhibition shook their heads with disbelief, how on earth could a teapot be so expensive! Even if the teapot was made entirely from gold, it would even be cheaper. I did not know if any one bought the teapot during the exhibition. If indeed that teapot was sold, the owner of that pot today could well be feeling how fortunate he was. He acquired a teapot made by Gu for only $20k while others are paying tens of millions for it.

The morale of the story is: You don't need to invest in properties for a good return for your investment, art works are obvious choice of investment. In an affluent society where cash is not a problem, people would thrown in tons of money to acquire any art pieces that are valuable.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Teapot Story


This teapot by Gu Zingzhou was auction for a hefty 14.95 million RMB in 2013.

An article about this teapot appeared in the Chinese paper in 1987 in which a journalist reported that this teapot could fetch tens of thousands of RMB in auction. Well, why is this teapot so unique that collectors are willing to part company with such a large sum of money for a used old teapot. In fact there are five such teapots made by the legendary Gu Zing Zhou who then gave them to four famous artists of that time and he himself kept one. The paintings on the pots were done by the artists and Gu did the engravings.

It all began in the 1940s where Gu was introduced to the famous artists of the time, Wu Hufan, Jiang Hantin and Tang Yun (江寒汀唐云吴湖帆during a cultural exchange. They all admired each other's professions and shared their many experiences in areas of artistic innovations and creations. Then Gu suggested that he would made some teapots and the artists would paint on them to commemorate this cultural exchange. In 1948, Gu made 5 identical teapots and had them sent to the artist Tang Yun and Wu Hufan for art work to be painted on the pots. The pots were then returned to Gu for engraving to be carried out before the pots were fired in the kiln. The teapots were then given to the artists and Gu himself kept one.

One of the artists, Jiang Hantin (江寒汀) , related this story in the 80s when he had a teapot sharing session with collectors. He showed to the audience the teapot he had kept with him all this while. He mentioned that these teapots were very special and they represented some of the finest works of Go Zingzhou. If the teapots were put in auction they could easily fetch tens of thousands of RMB. Well, that was in 1987. Today Gu's teapots can easily fetch tens of millions of RMB in auction. One can see how much collectors are willing to pay for teapots made by Gu Zingzhou.

This one was sold for 12.23 millions in 2010.





Thursday, 11 August 2016

Yixing Factory teapots

Teapots made in the old days, especially those from the Yixing first factory, are collectors item. These teapots were made from old Yixing clay with a diversity in colour, size and design. It is impossible to collect them all but luckily there are references as to the name and type of teapots made during that era. These teapots are shown below . If you do have any of them, keep them well for it is impossible to reproduce such teapots anymore.












Gu Jingzhou's teapots

The teapots made by grand master, Gu Jingzhou, are hot items in auction houses. They fetch record prices during auctions as collectors bid fiercely to own a masterpiece from this teapot legend. In the world of Yixing teapots, only teapots by the renown potters make it to auctions. The bigger the name, the fiercest the bidding and then the record prices.

Teapot legend Gu Jingzhou at work
Here some of those teapots sold in the past years in auctions.
















Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Friday, 15 April 2016

Some Puerh Tea

Pictures of some puerh tea in my collection.

8582 Dayee puerh, excellent

Old puerh bricks

Another view of old puerh brick

Green puerh unknown year


500 g puerh brick

A good puerh green tea

Old Palace puerh in package form

Old Panchang made in 2004

Red Label in Guangyuan tea

Lately I have tried out some vintage 1975 puerh bricks. Needless to say the fragrance and texture are fantastic. If you can't find the '73 Thick Brick, this is the next best alternative. Nowadays, who can fine puerh tea aged for more than 40 years. It is a rare gem in today's puerh tea market. If you can't afford the 1950 Red label, this is something closer to the impossible.

40 year old puerh bricks
P.S. I have just returned from a working trip in Beijing and a holiday in Hubei in March and early April.