China

‘Dahan: Contemporary Monk Painting’ at the Mall Galleries

Born in China in 1967, Dahan remembers how his appetite for painting was so strong as a child when he collected minerals from the nearby Wuyi Mountains to draw and paint on the walls and floors of his home.

But it wasn’t until after he studied and taught as an artist that Dahan felt shaken by the spirit of Buddha, becoming ‘enlightened’ through a visit to an eminent monk Master Yuan Yin. He became a monk in 2002 and his art transformed.  

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The 23 paintings in the exhibition at the Mall Galleries demonstrate the artist’s transition from the preoccupations of a ‘layman of earthly ties’ – which included ‘anxieties, powerlessness and confusion of urban dwellers’ to the Zen paintings of a pastoral hermit.

His Zen painting style of natural environments integrates Chinese and Western landscape aesthetics, but the colours and hues he chooses aim to express emptiness. He draws with Zen, to explain the mountains, rivers, earth, universe and stars, with the hope that it fills viewers’ hearts with Dharma joy.

His most recent work aims to depict the awe he has for Buddhism and guide viewers through their own spiritual search.

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Dahan said: “I wanted to come to the UK to learn and communicate and to see how the British public will react to my work. The UK was one of the first countries to complete the industrial revolution, it is highly-developed, has a world-class education system and a reputation for excellent manners. Britain also has a host of extremely talented artists, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, Gainsborough, Constable, Turner, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. My experience here may also bring inspiration and revelation to my future artistic creations.”

Dahan: Contemporary Monk Painting will be on show until August 26.

Yang Yin trial: 'US$500,000 painting? It's a fake worth US$200'

A painting which Yang Yin claimed he had bought for US$500,000 was dismissed by an art expert yesterday as nothing more than a cheap fake that would have cost US$200 in a night market.

Madam Lim Sew Yong, chairman of Raffles Fine Arts Auctioneers, also rubbished a set of five other paintings the former tour guide from China said he had bought on behalf of a widow for US$600,000.

Madam Lim valued them at US$2,000 to US$3,000 altogether, and told the court that it would be “stupid” for anyone to pay much more.

Spanish court rules not to extradite suspect in art fraud

A Spanish court has ruled that one of two brothers charged with perpetrating an art swindle valued at US$33 million should not be extradited for trial in the United States.

Spain’s National Court cited health reasons for deciding to halt the extradition of Jose Bergantinos Diaz, 60, who was arrested in April 2014 on a warrant issued by a New York district court. He is wanted, along with his brother Jesus Bergantinos Diaz, for passing-off fake art as the work of renowned painters such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The court has already ruled that Jesus Bergantinos Diaz can be extradited.

The Bergantinos Diaz brothers are charged in the U.S. alongside Pei Shen Qian, the Chinese artist who allegedly painted the works in New York then fled to China.

Why China's tradition of copying is becoming a creative force

China’s copycat culture is equal parts famous and infamous. Blatant imitation was an integral part of the international trade that launched China’s emergence on the world stage three decades ago, and, despite improvements, it remains a problem for the Chinese government, international and local companies—and artists. Yet out of south China’s rapid development and massive-scale manufacturing, a strange space between copying, appropriation, hacking and original creation has emerged, known as shanzhai.