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Contemporary Schools Of Inside Painting, by Peter Bentley

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The curse and blessing of HK's dirty air

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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« on: August 04, 2015, 09:04:40 pm »

Hello  All,

I  have  just  gone about the  annual  cleaning  of  all my  display cabinets  ( pic attached)

The  cabinets  were  my  wife's  gift  to me  when  she  had  the  foresight  to buy  our  present apartment  in the  down trough  of the   2008/9   financial  crisis  and  because  we  stripped  out the  old  decorations   and re-built  our  apartment  from  scratch  (bare  concrete  floor, walls  and  ceiling)    she   built   in  these  amazing  display  cabinets   which have  internal  lights   from every possible   direction  -  even  within the  glass  shelves  themselves.

Hong Kong  is  a beautiful   city  but  it is  plagued  with  dirty  air (mostly   drifting  south from  China) so  everything  needs a   daily  dust.   Our  display  cabinets  are  closed  and  locked,  and  so  escape  the  daily  dust-work,  but still   somehow  they  accumulate   a  fine  coating  of  micro-fine   dust  which  seeps  in through  the  gaps  in the  cabinet  doors   and needs   cleaning  at least  once  per  year *. 

Last  year this   time  I  cleaned  all my  300 +  bottles  in preparation  for    the  2014  ICSBS   convention  and  possible  visits  to my  home  ,  which  finally  only  Joey  and  Jack  Ma    did (and  very happy  times  they were).  That  was a   3  - day  job !

This  year  I have  finally   found a  way  to  catalog  and  photograph  my entire   collection   so every  bottle  had  to  come  out  and  be  photographed  -  and  cleaned.

Why  am I  writing  this  ?  It's because  as  I  examined  every  bottle , whether  for   catalog -  photography    or   just for     annual  cleaning  -  I  understood the  immense   detail  and  care the  artist  had  put  into  the  painting.  That  applies   the  same to  my  prime  Fu Goushun  masterpieces  down to  the mere  unsigned  bottles  I  bought    during  my  learning  phase  .  Every  bottle   took  someone  a  week  or  two  to  paint ,  whether  the  artist  was  talented  or  not.

I do believe  that  VMIPBs    have  yet to  "hit the  market"  and  be  recognized   for  the   true  art-work  that  many  of them  are.  Sadly  I will  not  live  long enough  to see  that  happen on a  wide  scale  and  at  auctions.  But  I can at least  see  prime  bottles by  some of the  artists I  have  studiously   supported  and  collected    selling  at  prices  in the  region of  US$ 20 - 100K    in  reputable   venues  (eg   Hong Kong's   China  Arts  & Crafts     shops  and  even  Wang  Xisan's  Hengshui   Museum/ shop)

Every  bottle  has a  story  -    and  every  bottle  I ever  bought  has  its  own  little   story

That's  why  I  love  to  display  every  bottle  on my  glass   shelves  and   admire them  every  day and  night :  it's a  miniature   art  gallery !   Cheesy

I once  visited  the  home  of  a  local    rich  guy  who  collected  Chinese  paintings .  He  said  he  had  " several  hundred"  paintings.  I  wondered  how  he  could  possibly display them    all  until  I  found  out that he   kept  them  all  in a vault   like  files  in a  filing  cabinet  where they  could  hardly  ever   be  seen  unless  taken  out  one-by-one . 

I  thought  to  myself  "what a   terrible  way  to  treat   such a beautiful  objects  of  art  -  it's  like  putting  them  in  prison  and  treating  them  as  pure  investment  things  like   stocks and  shares "  Because  that's  how  that   rich  guy  saw  his  art  collection  -  it  was  purely  as  an  investment  and  he  even one day  took me  to dinner  with the   art  expert  who  advised    him which  artist  to  buy  for  long-term  investment  (call that a "Hugh Moss"  adviser ?)

As  to me ?  I'm politely  content   with  my  little  collection  of  miniature  beauties .  I have  no desire  to  collect EVERY  POSSIBLE  bottle by artist  X, or  Y  or  Z.  In  fact  I think I  already     bought  artist's  X and  Y's  best-ever  works  long before they  were  famous    and  I enjoy  looking  at  those  prime  pieces  ( Joey  -  do  you  remember  that beautiful goldfish bottle  by  Song  Yiming ?   I think  that  was  his  finest work  -   ever  )

Art  should   be  appreciated     and  viewed    every day, every  night .

I  realize  that  this    blurb   will  possibly  offend  other SB  collectors  who  prefer  to  keep  their collections  under   wraps and  only   to   view  to selected    fellow  collectors .  That's their  choice  and  I  cannot  argue   with  that

But  for  me  -  art  was , and  is,  created  for  beauty  and  beauty  demands   to be  seen    and  displayed   every  day

My   favorite  music  piece of  all  time  is  Beethoven's  9th  Symphony    3rd  movement (Largo)

Would  Beethoven  be  happy  of  I    wrote  that  fact  or   would   he   be  happier if  I  turn  on  the  CD player   and  listen  to  his  music   yet  again ?

What the  heck  -  I  have  just   turned  on Beethoven and  am  going  to  look again  at my  lovely  bottles

Cheers

Peter







* CC Home display cabinets.JPG (331.65 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 21 times.)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 09:21:51 pm by Peter Bentley 彭达理 » Report Spam   Logged

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Joey
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2015, 09:26:12 pm »

Dear Peter,

      Yes I do remember the Song Yiming swimming carp bottle. It is wonderful.
Do you remember that I could not see most of the beauty in your collection because the sheer mass of over 300 snuff bottles overpowered my ability to look?

      I needed you to remove bottles one or two at a time, so I could enjoy viewing them at your dinner table.

      Unless you are a mind reader (and I doubt you are), you DON'T know why the gentleman keeps his painting collection secure and takes out only a few to view at a time.

      I prefer to think that he is refined, and follows the scholarly Chinese system of focusing on one beautiful artwork at a time, and giving it one's undivided attention, then replacing it in its box or pouch, before bringing out another beauty to admire and learn from.

     This is how YF Yang taught me to appreciate my snuff bottles. He prefers his bottles in individual boxes, but compromised with me that I get 10-bottle boxes, so I see 10 at a time (He first suggested I get 5-bottle boxes, but understood the storage aspect as well; though possibly 5-bottle boxes actually might have facilitated storage even better than 10-bottle boxes. ).

     But as you say, to each his own.
You feel free to follow the crass Western and Modern Chinese 'Nouveau Riche' style of displaying all one's wealth at one time, and I will continue to follow the refined, classic Chinese scholarly way of displaying only a few treasures at a time, so each can get the attention they 'deserve'.   Wink Grin

    And I hope my friendly criticism will not offend, as yours did not offend me.
Best,
Joey
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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2015, 09:33:09 pm »

Hi  Joey

I  expected an  "instant"  reply from  you  -  but  not   SO  instant !  Cheesy

The  "rich  guy" I  referred  to  was  no gentlemen  collector  -  he  was  an  investor , purely that

I  do  know  another   art  collector   of  a  different  kind  (art   fabrics)  - his  collection  is  now   spread  over  several museums   world-wide.    Now  THAT's  a   collector I  do  respect !

As  for  nouveaux   riche  ?     Whatever  are  you  thinking ?  I  love  my  little   art  collection  for it's own sake  and    for  no other  reason.  Certainly  not to  show  off ! 



Cheers

Peter
« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 09:39:01 pm by Peter Bentley 彭达理 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2015, 09:39:13 pm »

Hi Peter,

A truly impassioned insight! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the joys of collecting.

Tom
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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2015, 10:15:15 pm »

Hi  Tom

Thanks  for  the  input

The  strangest  thing  is that   when  Song Yiming  came to my  home  and   saw  that  carp bottle     which I  bought  via  a  third  party  several  years  earlier  he  dismissed  it  as a  "sideline"   thing  and nothing to be  proud  of 

But  I  still  regard  it  as  one  of  his  finest   works  ever.

I  simply  can't  explain that  fact

The  same  goes  for  my  prime  /  super -  prime  Fu  Guoshun bottle  which  (if  there   are  no  final technical  hitches)  will    feature  in  the  ICSBS  Autumn  Journal .  For  that  bottle  I  paid  RMB 43,000  =  US$ 5K ++   depending  on  what  exchange rate  you use  at that  time.  That's the  most  I ever  paid  for  any bottle  in RMB    direct-from- artist   in   all  my  life.    I now  see  minor   FGS  bottles   selling for  RMB 150K  in  Henghsui   at  WXS's    shop    and  US$  hundred  thousands  at  HK  CAC. 

What  does  all this  mean ?  In  monetary   terms  a  lot 

But  in  REAL  ART TERMS  much  more, very much more.  I  love  my  little  collection  just for  its  beauty,  and  no  other  reason. 

Beethoven'  9th  largo  has  just  turned  on..........

Love to  the  world

Peter

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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2015, 10:59:49 pm »


The  strangest  thing  is that   when  Song Yiming  came to my  home  and   saw  that  carp bottle     which I  bought  via  a  third  party  several  years  earlier  he  dismissed  it  as a  "sideline"   thing  and nothing to be  proud  of 

But  I  still  regard  it  as  one  of  his  finest   works  ever.

I  simply  can't  explain that  fact


Hi Peter,

Sorry to interrupt Beethoven, but you are not putting yourself in the artist's shoes.

Any creative work, whether it be by a painter, sculptor, poet or composer, has its exoteric side (the outwardly displayed part), and its esoteric side, which speaks inwardly to different people in different ways. To the artist their output holds additional facets of meaning at a very personal level. 

Just as you say there is a story behind each bottle you have purchased, there is also an untold story for the artist himself / herself. It may have been created comfortably under happy circumstances, or conversely under particularly challenging conditions. Whatever they be, there are always personal emotions associated with the finished product in the artist's own mind.

Obviously, I have no idea what goes on in Song Yiming's head, but he may have produced the carp bottle under circumstances for which he does not place the same esteem as some of his other works. But if you made him aware that you consider it "one of his finest works ever", I am certain that he will eventually come to see it that way himself.

Tom
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2015, 02:12:57 am »

Hi Tom

The  story  behind that  bottle  is  stranger  than  you  can  possibly   think,

I  first   saw  the  bottle  in  about  2006 / 2007    at a  specialist    shop  in  the  same  block of   office  building / hotel/     shopping  arcades  where  my company has had  and still  haves   an office  :  Landmark   Towers  ,  next to the  Great  Wall  hotel


I    was  totally  into Chinese  landscapes  at  that  time  and  my  top-most  limit  was  RMB4K    so to  ask  for  a  goldfish  RMB15.6 K   bottle  was  way   WAY   far  outside  my  realm .

I recall   that I  repeatedly  went  back to to that  shop  and  looked  at that  "magic" bottle over   what must have  been  almost 2  years  .

Finally   in a    fit of   pique    after a    great company  sale  deal    which left  me on  a   huge    emotional "high:   I   trounced  my  RMB 4K  max  limit  and  bought  that bottle  for  RMB 6.5K   -  which for me  at that time  was  a  small  fortune.

It  was  only  much later   in  my  collecting  history  that I  realized  the  true value  of  that  bottle.  In  today's'  prices it  should  sell for  U$40K  because I  have never  seen  anything     that is   even   50%  close to  the   quality  of  the  painting

Actually  it  does not matter  WHO  painted  that bottle    -   whoever  it  was  was a  genius

It's  signed  by  Song  Yiming  and I  have   no doubt  that  he  - as a genius- -  painted  that  bottle  in  his more  youthful  years 

Such  are  the adventures  in VMIPB  collecting !

I  did   creative (music)  stuff in my own more  youthful  years that  leave even me  dumbfound  !

Cheers

Peter



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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2015, 02:40:00 am »

Hi Peter,

Wonderful story. It was obviously destined to be yours.

Tom
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2015, 03:17:26 am »

Hi Tom

Yes  - it  was destined for me

I  will  never  part with that   one special;  SYM   bottle  till  the   day I  die
 
And that's  the    most  wonderful thing  about  VMIPBs   :    they  each  have a   personal  -  CURRENT  -   history,  like a  face book    thing    /  pedigree  .

They   truly   LIVE  !

Cheers

Peter
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2015, 05:30:37 am »

Dear, Dear Peter,

     You misunderstood my two key points.

1. With all due respect, you CAN NOT KNOW what is in another person's heart or mind. So while you see a cold-blooded investor, inside, he may see himself as a true scholar, insofar as his scroll collection is concerned. Or you may be right, but it never hurts to give the benefit of the doubt.

2. I was not referring to you as 'nouveau riche' but to the Modern Chinese, with whom I contrasted the 'Classical Chinese Scholarly' attitude of showing only one or a few at a time, and giving each artwork 'its due' in attention. I should have used the plural (Nouveaux). Sorry.

   Among Westerners, everyone displays all their art on their walls, unless they have simply too much. I do it myself. That is because we think that we can deal with 'sensory overload'.

   It is so much more calming to view ONE scroll and one flower  arrangement in the tokonoma (niche) of a Zen style tea house, with all the other wall surfaces blank, than to be in my study, with 6 framed objects, artistic or documentary, in front of me (above my computer); and seven more framed pieces to my right; and 22 objects on the walls behind me  on the far walls of my study, 15 ft. away (paintings, and Maori weapons and Hawaiian paddles and a feather lei by a master); etc.

  What makes my study calming, is the 7 ft. (2.10 m) high, almost 6 ft. (1.80 m) wide, 16 paned Georgian style sash window, through which I can see the 200+ year old Weeping Ash tree and shrubbery on my front 'lawn' with the misty background of green mountains in the distance and a lot of grey sky,  through the raindrops on the glass.

  I hope this clears up some of what I perceived as a misunderstanding, though, as I understand the story in the 'Autumn Floods' chapter of The Zhuangzi, while Zhuangzi and Huizi discussed how one could understand the mind of a fish, they really were talking about how can one person know what is in another's heart or mind?  Grin

Regardless, I love your Song Yiming 'Swimming Carp' bottle!  Wink   Grin
To me, it is definitely one of the finest examples of that genre in any material, snuff bottle, scroll, album leaf or fan, that I've ever seen. And I LOVE 'Fish Swimming' (although Dover Sole grilled with a bit of butter, is a close second!  Roll Eyes).

Best to all,
Joey


Hi  Joey

I  expected an  "instant"  reply from  you  -  but  not   SO  instant !  Cheesy

The  "rich  guy" I  referred  to  was  no gentlemen  collector  -  he  was  an  investor , purely that

I  do  know  another   art  collector   of  a  different  kind  (art   fabrics)  - his  collection  is  now   spread  over  several museums   world-wide.    Now  THAT's  a   collector I  do  respect !

As  for  nouveaux   riche  ?     Whatever  are  you  thinking ?  I  love  my  little   art  collection  for it's own sake  and    for  no other  reason.  Certainly  not to  show  off ! 



Cheers

Peter
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2015, 10:06:59 pm »

Hi Joey

Peace   dear   brother,   peace  !
.
I was  just  so  upset  to    even  see  the   words  "nouveuax   riche"  next to my  name  !
.
I  collected and  still  live  on a  pittance Sad

 Cheers

Peter
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2015, 03:23:01 am »

Dear Peter,

   I accept the 'offering of peace', though I offered nothing else.
But I feel I must correct you:  the term 'N.R.' was not "next to my name"; it was connected to the phrase "modern Chinese".  Wink

best to you and yours,
Joey



Hi Joey

Peace   dear   brother,   peace  !
.
I was  just  so  upset  to    even  see  the   words  "nouveuax   riche"  next to my  name  !
.
I  collected and  still  live  on a  pittance Sad

 Cheers

Peter
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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