Lot 9. Fung Ming Chip (b. 1951), Couplet, ink on paper, hanging scroll, marked with two seals; inscribed 07P2-8, titled and signed by the artist on the reverse, 71 1/2 by 36 7/8 in., 181.7 by 93.7 cm. Estimate 25,000 — 35,000 USD. Lot sold 22,500 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Note: Born in Guangdong. China, Fung Ming Chip moved to Hong Kong in 1956 and then to New York in 1977, and from 1986 divided his time between both these cities and Taipei, and now currently resides mostly in Hong Kong.
A self-taught artist, Fung's quest to extend the conceptual field of Chinese calligraphy began initially with his work in the related field of seal carving. Since the mid 1990’s, his innovative reconfiguration of classical calligraphy has led to his creation of over one hundred new 'script types’, a vocabulary used in his whimsical, idiosyncratic or contemplative works, often using his own poems.
With a deep understanding of the Sho abstract calligraphy movement by artists in post-war Japan, Fung’s works are not about line, but about the expression beyond lines, which is why his calligraphic script style varies from work to work.
One of the defining characteristics of Fung’s calligraphic art is his use of water; he writes each character using only water and immediately applies another layer of black ink that is repelled by the wet paper. This wet on wet layering produces a distinctive composition style for his calligraphy and reveals unusual properties of the ink medium itself. However, in his own words, “My work is not about writing calligraphy, it’s about making it.” The composition in his works is just as or more important than the text and literal meaning that is conveyed through written language; “It's not about reading the words, it's about seeing them”. Every element has a logical and rational reason for its position and appearance on the paper, such as his use of seals, which he carves, and which add an unusual flair to the spatial composition of the monochromatic works.
Fung has exhibited internationally and had a major retrospective of his work at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 1999. He has been the artist in residence at Cambridge University and has works in major private collections and institutions worldwide. His numerous exhibitions in museums include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; the Harvard University Museum, Cambridge; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton; Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford and the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong.
Sotheby's. Monochrome, New York, 15 sept. 2015