Bada Shanren harbored strong loyalist sentiments well into his old age and often used painting to express his defiant spirit. The fish in this painting is typical of his bold, enigmatic images. Its upturned eye creates a vivid impression of indignation that is almost human. Seemingly suspended in midair with its tail half cropped, the fish may symbolize the displacement and bereavement of all native Chinese. With its menacing stare and a bulging belly, the fish compares most closely with similar images created in the early 1690s.
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.