late Ming (1368–1644) or early Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Handscroll; ink on paper
Image: 4 9/16 x 77 3/16 in. (11.6 x 196 cm)
Lent by The Chih Lo Lou Collection, Hong Kong
Not on view
Kuang Lu wrote this poem to commemorate an outing to the mountains with four friends on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month—the Double Ninth Festival. On this day custom dictates that people ascend the heights to enjoy the view. Apart from vivid descriptions of natural scenery and musing over the passage of time, he mentions the no-longer-occupied Weiyuan Constellation, the realm of the Jade Emperor. This allusion to the demise of the Ming emperor dates this calligraphy to the final years of Kuang’s life.
Written in wild-cursive script, this work pushes the graphic potential of Chinese characters to the utmost. Twisting ink filaments link separate strokes and adjacent characters in dynamic configurations. Columnar integrity is willfully and creatively compromised to draw attention to the pictorial quality of this linear composition as a masterpiece of abstract art.
cat. no. 33
Ho Iu-kwong (He Yaoguang) Chinese, 1907–2006
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of Dissent in 17th-Century China: Masterpieces of Ming Loyalist Art from the Chih Lo Lou Collection," September 6, 2011–January 2, 2012.