Tag Archives: Chinese

Getting Chinese Art By Hook Or By Crook

When I was in taking Egyptology in graduate school at the University of Texas at Dallas back in the ‘90’s, I learned of an Egyptologist by the name of Zahi Hawass.   This man was, at that time, the Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs in Egypt. This made him the undisputed king of Egyptology.   No one could get an archaeological permit without his approval.

But that is not what made him different. No, He was more interested in bringing back Egyptian artifacts that sat in foreign museums back to his homeland. These artifacts were always precious statues, frescoes, jewelry and other various art forms of the Egyptian culture.  He was, and still is, a catalyst for what came next.

There is now an understandable trend among international governments to reacquire lost art artifacts of their respective culture.   After all, it makes good politics.   It swells the nationalistic pride coffers of individual nations with physical proof of the greatness of a person’s culture’s or national history.

So it should come as no surprise that there is a new movement among the Chinese art collectors in the world to reacquire artifacts that once belonged in China.   These artifacts were sometimes looted from palaces and homes in times of war and revolution.  Indeed, the Chinese cultural revolution of the ’50’s seems to be over.

Normally, when a government or an individual collector of precious art finds such a work of art, they usually go through a long drawn out formal process of buying the piece back or negotiating a reasonable trade with the museum so that everyone gets something out of the deal.  Even if it’s nothing more than good public relations.

Male Foo Lion
Male Foo Lion

But, and it’s no secret, the Chinese government does not do things the way western nations would like them to be done. When normal repatriation of the lost artwork fails, they start bidding wars at the auction houses to get the pieces back. There are some very rich people in the world, but very few can outbid a corporation bankrolled by the Chinese government for the sole purpose of acquiring these lost works.

However, there is strong speculation that several rich collectors of Chinese art found an even more lucrative way of getting their art fix.   They steal it.   According to The New York Times , at least 65 works of art disappeared in 5 thefts in the past 5 years.

“Chinese laws, on everything from theft to intellectual property, are very different from those in the West, and therefore stolen or forged artworks find a market far more easily there than abroad,” Noah Charney, an art crime expert said after the Norway thefts.”

It will be interesting to see how this entire affair works out in the end.  The jobs are obviously done by professional thieves and the chances of capturing these guys is very slim.  This is why there is only speculation and no real factual information as to what became of the pilfered art.

In fact, this crime wave reads like something right out of Hollywood. If they make a film on it, think blending the movie Mission Impossible and the modern version of the Thomas Crown Affair without the sappy love story. If any would be directors out there like this idea, I happen to know a certain photographic artist with some Chinese inspired artwork that can hook you up.  Just saying….

 

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How Will You Scare Your Enemies this Chinese New Year?

Happy New Year!

恭禧发财  ( Gong Xi Fa Cài)  or (Gong Hey Fat Choy)

Since it is Chinese New year, I thought it proper to introduce one of my new works. This is Male Foo Lion.  Sometimes referred to as a foo dog, foo dogs are really lions. Foo Lions are very important symbols in Chinese culture and references to them are easy to find. The most famous being sets of Foo Lions from the Ming and Qing dynasties found in the Forbidden Palace in the center of Beijing, China.

I wanted to bring forth and center upon the emotion in the statue by giving a close-cropped view of the Male Foo Lionterrifying teeth and eyes of the lion. I envisioned the lion launching out of the frame at the viewer with its ferocious intent. The image was desaturated of color and various dodge and burn techniques are then applied along with a cool blue filter to enhance the whites and boost the blacks in the image.

Traditionally, Foo Lions offer protection from negative energy or Qi. It does this in the same way gargoyles work. The scarier or more grotesque the figure is the better.   This frightening visage protects its owner by scaring away the negative energy. It’s also important to place the Foo lion so that it is facing a door or window from which the owner of the lion believes negative energy may come.

The male lion usually has a ball under his paw representing the world and is always located towards the left side of an opening looking out. The female lion is found with a cub under its paw representing support. The female lion is always located towards the right side of the opening looking out.

This particular image is that of the male lion. So, if you wish to feel the full effects of its protection, place it on the left side of an entrance hallway, door, or window.

 

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