In 1071 CE, Su Shi had been expelled from the capital, starting at the age of 34 a second career as a provincial servant with increasingly mediocre missions despite his immense talent. He died in 1101. His younger friend Mi Fu escaped political persecution by his reputation for eccentricity. They were the two best calligraphers in their lifetime.
A nine-character autograph message on a 28 x 9.5 cm sheet sent by Su Shi to the governor of a locality that he was leaving was sold for $ 8.2M including premium by Sotheby's on September 19, 2013.
Graphic art is exceptional in their works. The movement of the artist's hand is the same as for calligraphy. The rare drawings by Su Shi translate emotions too deep to be expressed in words. Mi Fu will only paint in the last years of his life, mostly after Su Shi's death.
On November 26 in Hong Kong, Christie's sells as lot 8008 a 26 x 50 cm ink on paper painted by Su Shi. This piece is extended by many colophons including an appreciation calligraphed by Mi Fu, and includes many seals. Please watch two videos shared by the auction house.
The image consists of two elements that join together : a leafless tree twisted into several undulations and a bulky rock. The dryness of the tree expresses the desolation of the artist in his exile while at the opposite edge on the left flank of the rock the sparse bamboos bring the hope of a new vitality.
SOLD for HK$ 460M including premium