Modern Chinese Art At Asia House Gallery, London

By Narelle Doe | 22 February 2008
An abstract painting of a farmhouse in monochrome shades.

Gao Xingjian, Farmhouse in the evening, 1998. Courtesy the artist

Exhibition Preview: Modern Chinese Art - The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection, is showing in two exhibitions at Asia House Gallery, London. Beginnings runs until March 15 2008 and A New Generation runs from April 1 - May 24 2008.

This rich collection of Chinese Art formed by the great scholar and connoisseur of Chinese painting in the West, Michael Sullivan, and his wife Khoan, is showing for the first time in London.

The collection spans 65 years, from the work of refugee artists in the province of Sichuan in Western China in the 1940s to contemporary artists. Many of the pieces of art were personal gifts to Michael and Khoan, making the exhibition a very personal one that celebrates long friendships.

“The collection bears witness to the generosity of our artist friends who felt that their work in our hands would be appreciated and understood,” said Michael Sullivan. “We began to acquire works of a more advanced kind; but nothing freakish or of mere transient interest; works that we hope a hundred, two hundred years from now will still be as moving and as satisfying as they are to us today.”

A drawing of a Chinese lady sat next to a vase and holding a fan.

Zhong Sibin (Cheong Soo Pieng), Portrait of Khoan Sullivan, 1959. Courtesy the artist

Paintings, prints, woodcuts and drawings from the 1940s to the late 20th century are included in Beginnings. Many of the pieces are quite traditional, having strong connections with orthodox guohua or Chinese national style. A New Generation focuses on work stemming from the Beijing Spring of 1979-81 when a new wave of creative energy kick-started the coming decades.

Professor Sullivan, a world authority on Chinese painting, has curated the exhibitions. His book, Chinese Art in the Twentieth Century (1959) was the first ever on the subject while Art and Artists of Twentieth Century China (1996) is the most complete.

Asia House is the premiere pan-Asian organisation in Britain, promoting a greater understanding of the rich and varied Asian cultures and economies, both traditional and modern. The venue runs approximately 150 events annually covering Asian economics, politics, visual and performing arts, literature, food, film and fashion.

This is an exhibition preview. If you’ve been to see the show, why not let us know what you think?

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