Ding Yan Yong 丁衍庸

MindPhilosophy9.jpg

Blue Landscape – 1976, 135 x 69cm

‘A crane reminds him of the Song Dynasty poet, Lin Pu, a recluse and crane fancier who calls cranes his children – a somber bird, Ming Dynasty’s ill fated Pa Da Shan Ren or Zhu Da. who painted and drank his royal life away, saddened by the politics of the Dynasty. “His birds were arrogant, sad and defiant.”(TC. Lai)

 

So much has been written on Ding Yanyong, from scholars of art to authors, critics and adored students. His life can be read in many publications from Commercial Galleries where he exhibited to Museums and Government Art Galleries.

His works have been collected by hundreds of students and collectors, now worldwide, but there was a time when he gave his works to his best student and friend, Mok E Den of Hong Kong to sell them to anyone as he needed finance. If only I knew him then!

I attended an exhibition of Chinese Art at the Chinese Department, University of Melbourne, headed by Professor Harry Simon in the 1970’s. It included Ding Yanyong’s one painting, of a bird. It struck me as someone, so comical and simple, inferring a subject more serious, symbolic of certain human conditions. A crane reminds him of the Song Dynasty poet, Lin Pu, a recluse and crane fancier who calls cranes as his children – a somber bird, Ming Dynasty’s ill fated Pa Da Shan Ren or Zhu Da, who painted and drank his royal life away, saddened by the politics of the Dynasty. “His birds were arrogant, sad and defiant.”(TC. Lai)

Ding, came to Melbourne Australia on our invitation to exhibit his paintings. He could not speak much English but fortunately, I could speak Cantonese. There were no hotels in 1975 with Chinese staff, so he stayed with me.

One morning he was excited by a rare sound near the house, saying, “even the birds in Australia know my name. They keep calling me Ding, ding and ding,” the call of the bell birds in the bush, it made him so happy!

That year 1976 he demonstrated his art in the National Gallery of Victoria, to a fascinated and skeptic mixed crowd of art lovers. At the conclusion, they were stunned by him and his chain-smoking performance. He never spoke, just painted for an hour, after which he demanded Australian ice-cream to cool him. He donated some paintings to the Gallery. That year he sold out two Exhibitions of works, in Melbourne and Sydney but it had no effect on him, he just loved to paint. At dinner or lunch he would scribble on napkins, even the  tablecloth, while he talked, and I never salvaged any of them!

His subjects varied from ludicrous, opera figures to Buddhist monks, world weary warriors to gigantic landscapes and the birds and flowers theme. But most inspiring of all were his 1-pi works of cranes, cats, rabbits and rarely figures. 1-pi painting means using ink and brush to paint a subject with only one line, without ever lifting one’s brush off the paper, till accomplished. The ink has to last and not run out or the single line be broken. Ding’s Crane was most extraordinary and so accomplished, it is difficult to fault.

Today I wonder what Ding would think of the prices, he is achieving in auction, in Japan, Hong Kong, China, America, Europe and Australia. The National Gallery of Victoria boasts a collection, with gratitude to  Jason Yeap of Mering Corporation Ltd. who recognised Ding’s talent and donated many works.

Ding Yanyong has a niche in 20th/21st century of Chinese Art.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Opera Figures – circa 1976, 69 x 45cm
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Poem – 1975, 152 x 82cm

丁衍庸的事迹从艺术学者到作家、评论家和崇拜的学生所撰写的书籍皆有提及。他的生平点滴可从商业画廊的众多出版物中阅读,包括他曾在博物馆和政府艺术画廊的展出。

 

放眼世界,有上百位学生和收藏家都有珍藏他的画作,但有段时间他将作品托付于在香港的爱徒兼友人莫一点四处售卖,因为当时他需要资金。如果那时我认识他简直难以想象!

1970年,我参加了墨尔本大学中华部举办的中华艺术展览,由Harry Simon教授主导,其中包括丁衍庸的一幅画:一只鸟。这让我感到震撼,笔触有点滑稽和简单,却是探讨严肃的主题,并且直通人性。而鹤也让人想起了宋朝的诗人-林逋,一个隐士和鹤的热爱者,他将鹤当做孩子。而一只忧郁的鸟,明朝命运多舛的八大山人或朱耷,他沉浸在绘画和酒瓶子的生活,对王朝的政治感到悲哀。“他笔下的鸟是傲慢、悲伤和挑衅的。”(TC.Lai)

1975年,丁衍庸应邀去澳大利亚墨尔本展出他的画作。他不会说英语,但幸运的是,我能讲粤语。由于当时中国一行人没有住宿酒店,所以他和我住在一起。

一天早晨,他在房子附近听到一种罕见的声音,兴奋地说:“连澳大利亚的鸟儿都知道我的名字。它们不停地叫我丁、丁和丁。“在灌木丛中风铃鸟的鸣叫,让他感到极度雀跃。

1976年,丁衍庸在维多利亚国家美术馆展示他的艺术作品,毫无疑问这是一群艺术爱好者的聚头。最后,许多人被他不间断抽烟的表演镇住了。他没说过话,只是画了一个小时,之后他要求提供澳大利亚的冰淇淋降下温,他最终把一些画捐赠给美术馆。那一年,他在墨尔本和悉尼仅出售了两件作品,但却对他没影响,他纯粹喜欢画画。在早晚吃饭用餐的时候,他会在餐巾纸上涂画,甚至桌布上也会涂鸦,即使他在说话中,而我却没办法抢救到任何一张。

他的作画主题从滑稽的戏曲歌剧人物到佛教僧侣,厌世武士到庞大景观,还有鸟和花的主题。但最鼓舞人心的是他的一笔画作品,包括鹤、猫、兔子,少数人物像。“一笔画”意味着用墨水和画笔在纸上仅用一条线完成绘画,其中墨水和线条笔画必须连续一气呵成,中断就是失败。丁衍庸所画的鹤是最非凡和成功的,几乎没出错的机率。

今天,我想知道丁衍庸会如何看待价格,他的作品在日本、香港、中国、美国,欧洲和澳大利亚的拍卖会上取得了成功。维多利亚国家美术馆也收藏了一套珍藏,感谢Mering Corporation Ltd的叶绍礼(Jason Yeap)。他慧眼识丁衍庸的才华并捐赠了许多作品。

丁衍庸在20世纪至21世纪中国艺术界占有一席之地。

MindPhilosophy12.jpg
I Pi Crane – 1976, 69 x 34.5cm

MindPhilosophy13.jpg


By Marjorie Ho

Advertisements