148.3 x 80.5cm image; 104.0cm rod
‘Wang Zhen was an ‘amateur’ scholar-artist who took to painting relatively late in life having previously been a successful and wealthy Shanghai businessman. This endearing and robust image of the Buddhist deity Bodhidharma, the chief patriarch of Chan (or Zen) Buddhism, reveals the imaginative and energetic combination of tradition and modernity in late 19th and early 20th century Chinese painting. According to legend, Bodhidharma achieved Enlightenment after spending nine years staring at a blank wall. This empathy with the Buddhist ideal is alluded to in the inscription on the right by the well-known Beijing intellectual of the time, Cai Yuanpei. The scroll is signed ‘Bailong shanren’ (white dragon hermit) and the poem, by Wang, is an ode to Bodhidharma:
‘Nine years facing the wall,
Shadow impressed on stone;
To move is not so good
As it is to be stationary.’’
‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.168
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Jackie Menzies (Australia) (Author), Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 12, 14 (illus.). Cat.no.3.6
Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales 1990, 1990, 8 (colour illus.).
Ewen McDonald (Australia) (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, Sydney, 1994, 207 (colour illus.).
Bruce James (Australia) (Author), Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Director), Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Domain, 1999, 261 (colour illus.).
'Modern Chinese Paintings in the Art Gallery of New South Wales: The Shanghai School and its Impact' by Edmund Capon, pg. 104-109., Orientations Sep 2000, Sep 2000, 107 (colour illus.). fig.4
'The Shanghai School and Modern Painting', The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales 2003, 2003, 168 (colour illus.).
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Author), Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 170 (colour illus.), 171, 175 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 175 is a detail of this work.
Jackie Menzies (Australia) (Author), Contemporary Chinese Painting, 1985, 14 (illus.). Cat.no.20
Contemporary Chinese Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 04 May 1985–30 Jun 1985.
Buddhist Art from the Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 06 May 1995–10 Sep 1995.
Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995.