Category Archives: Mind Philosophy 艺门

Bayan-Ölgii Mongolia 大漠煙光

Text & image(s) courtesy of  Lee Han Wei

For thousands of years, nomadic tribes in Mongolia faced countless armed conflicts with their surrounding countries including the majority Han Chinese in China mainland.

The boundless Mongolian steppe became the most important frontier defence of the Han Chinese Government. During the Tang and Song Dynasty, more than a thousand years ago, many government officials in the frontier were literature scholars capable of creating great everlasting poems. In their long countless days in the steppe, these Chinese scholars wrote many timeless poems that have had long lasting effects on Chinese literature and also Chinese-Japanese ink wash paintings. The famous Wang Wei (699–759) of Tang dynasty is one of them who wrote poems that described the Mongolian land: “A smoke hangs straight on the desert vast and the sun sits round on the endless river.

While travelling on the ancient exotic route of Mongolia, one should bring along a book of Tang-Song poems. “Boundless sky is so blue, the wilderness seems boundless too. Rippling through the pastures, north winds blow; the grass bends low, cattle and sheep to show.” The poem itself is a collection of light and shadow, a true photography album.

数千年来,蒙古各地的游牧民族和周边国家有过无数次的武装冲突,漠北一望无际的茫茫草原,也成了历来汉族王朝的边防要务。

唐宋时期,当时被发配到北方大漠的汉族官吏,有为数不少才华洋溢的文人。漠北万里风霜,有绮丽雄壮的风景,草原山丘光暗错落, 显隐交杂,在文人笔下更显得气势磅礡。

悠悠岁月里,多愁善感的文人在大漠草原写下了许多流传千古的诗词,后世称之「边塞诗」。信手拈来,如唐代王维(692年-761年)的《使至塞上》「大漠孤烟直,长河落日圆」;李白(701年-762年)《关山月》「明月出天山,苍茫云海间」;鲜卑族的民歌「天苍苍,野茫茫。风吹草低见牛羊」;乃至近代的毛泽东的诗词《沁园春》「北国风光,千里冰封,万里雪飘」。千余年来诗人的边塞吟咏都是别致醉人大漠摄影集。

游走漠北时记得带上一册唐宋诗集,一边走一边读,犹如赴一趟与唐宋诗人分享视觉和心灵的享宴。

The Big Business of Forging in Art and Antique 锻造艺术与古物的大事业

by CHT

When auction houses are hammering away incredible prices on arts and antiques, it is normal that galleries would take advantage of the situation and tag items with a higher price. Hence, making owners with the knowledge of the product demand high or sometimes unreasonable premiums. Eventually, this circle will lead to a spike of fakes, imitations and forgeries. In modern technology today, news travels at high speed through the internet and social media world. It is not difficult for owners, collectors, sellers and even criminals to know what is of high demand in the current market. News like an 18th century Chinese vase found in a shoebox in an attic in France that sold for USD 19 million caused a big commotion among collectors, motivating them to embark on a hunt for such pieces hoping to have the same luck.

An 18th century Chinese vase found in a shoebox in an attic in France sold for 16.2 million euros (£14.3 million) at auction in Paris

Image courtesy of news.ro

In a simple economical and business environment, demand dictates supply. What if the demand for genuine pieces are high but there is not enough supply? Ultimately, this will require an alternate source of supply to satisfy the market. Imitations or replicas of old pieces are thus produced and sold as new pieces for those who only seek nice affordable pieces for decoration purposes. However, unethical dealers would produce fakes and pass them off as genuine pieces with an intention to cheat the buyer. In short, replicas are legal, but if one tries to pass off a new piece as an antique it is considered a criminal offense. 

The business of fake antique pieces is actually one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. In 2014, a report by Switzerland’s Fine Art Expert Institute (FAEI) stated that at least half of the artwork being circulated in the market is fake. Al Jazeera reported in 2015 the fact that buyers from China spent more than USD 5.5 billion on Chinese art and antiques in 2014, yet Sotheby’s Asian art expert, Nicolas Chow, said that: “Virtually 99.9% of what you see in the art world is wrong.” This alone poses as a rather alarming issue. Stories of collectors having porcelain makers in Jingdezhen use their genuine antique pieces as reference to duplicate high quality copies which they then place in smaller auction houses in America or Europe ‘claiming provenance’ is also a shock to hear. Some of the most recent cases in 2018 include incidents such as when the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent was found exhibiting 26 fake works by Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky and the Telegraph’s report on how there was only one genuine work of Amedeo Modigliani among a collection of 21 fake paintings that were on exhibition at Genoa’s Palazzo Ducale.

The fake market is now so common across the world that there is actually a museum exhibiting fakes. The Museum of Art Fakes in Vienna that opened in 2005 invited some of the master art forgers to exhibit their creations. Among them were German artist, Edgar Mrugalla, a self taught expert in copying works of Rembrandt, Picasso and Renoir. He has painted more than 3500 pieces by the time he was 65, jailed and eventually released to work for authorities to help uncover dubious artworks. On the other side of the continent, there is a famous art village called Dafen in China that produced an estimate 60% of the world’s oil paintings a few years back. People that worked in the studios and galleries were like art processors with jobs of ‘xeroxing’ famous works of artists no matter dead or alive as long as there were people in demand of the art piece. However, the Chinese government eventually intervened because cheap fakes were no longer viable in the rapid rising cost and e-commerce environment and original works were encouraged. This has however forced many art forgers to take higher risks to forge more expensive pieces in order to survive.

Although authorities around the world are clamping down on syndicates and master forgers in the art field, one must understand that to do so it is extremely difficult due to the efficiency of high tech scanners and printing machines these days. The similarity of the fake piece to the original piece is so precise that some experts hesitate on the originality of the piece and would play safe by commenting things like: “… to my best knowledge but the final decision still lies with the purchaser.” Every involved party is trying their best to keep a distance from such situations to prevent the possibility of being sued for negligence. 

All in all, the business of forgery is a multi billion business in the world today. If one does not have the proper knowledge, financial means and fears being cheated on, it is highly advisable to stay away from becoming a collector. 

Spirit of the Land 大地心灵

Murrundindi_3.jpg

Murrundindi

Headman of the Wurrundjeri Tribe

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri people, and pay our respects to the elders both past and present for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia.

Long before the English came, before politics and technology interfered, Australia was a rich tapestry of indigenous life. Hunters and gatherers roamed freely and lived off the abundant land Mother Earth bestowed upon them.

“My name is Murrundindi. It means ‘home up in the mountain’.” Never have those words been spoken with such conviction, pride and passion. Headman of the Wurrundjeri tribe, Murrundindi is the custodian and advocate of Aboriginal rights and legacy in Australia.

Although he grew up handicapped and distraught by his identity, no one is prouder than Murrundindi of the Aboriginal heritage and roots.

“Healesville is a healing ground. That’s where my people lived. If you’ve got any connection to the land and to the spirit, you’ll understand its powers .”

“My father was Scottish, and my mother was an aboriginal lady named Gumbri. I was born in North Melbourne, at home on the kitchen table because my mother was not allowed to give birth in the hospital at that time.” The midwife, Murrundindi’s grandmother, brought him into a world where aboriginals had no rights, 73 years ago. When he was four days old, he was brought to Melbourne to be registered with the government. “I grew up in a society being called a half-caste. I was not black nor white, not wanted. The white community would have nothing to do with me and I did not have a white education. I could not read or write till I was 36.”

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One should never make the mistake of romanticising the aboriginal way of life. It was never easy. Racism and prejudice reared their ugly heads.

“It’s only the last 36 years of my life that I’ve acknowledged my aboriginal roots because of the discrimination. I was always taught to believe in my culture at home but when I went outside I wanted to be a white person, because of the

way we were treated.”

Murrundindi’s English wife Maureen gave him the pivotal turning point in life. ‘She showed me respect and taught me how to stand up for my rights. I’m the happiest man in the world, have the most beautiful wife and family who respect and understand who I am”.

Another significant moment for Murrundindi was when the aboriginals were given constitutional rights in 1967.  As a mentor and much sought-after teacher of indigenous culture in some of Melbourne’s top private schools, this progressive leader can be found playing the didgeridoo at schools during the week and at Healesville Sanctuary on Sundays and public holidays.

“My culture is my living.”

我们由衷的感谢这片土地的传统守护者- Wurundjeri 部落族裔人民,并向过去和现在的长者们表示崇高敬意,因为他们留存了澳大利亚土著居民的记忆、传统、文化和希望。

早在英国人的到来,还有一切的政治与技术力量介入这块土地之前,澳大利亚其实拥有生活方式朴实多彩的土著(原住民)群体。狩猎采集者自由漫游,依存于大地之母赐予他们的肥沃富饶土地。

 

“我的名字叫Murrundindi,含义是“在山上的家”。他在说这些话的时候从来没有像现在这样充满信心、自豪和激情。

Healesville是一个具备治愈能量的小天地。那是我的人民生活的地方,如果你与大地心灵相通,你就会领悟这股力量。

Murrundindi是Wurrundjeri部落的首领,也是澳大利亚土著权利和文化遗产的守护者与倡导者。虽然他从小就因为自己的身份认知问题导致残破不堪和心神俱疲,但因为有着土著传统和根源,让他更坚定骄傲。

“我的父亲是苏格兰人,母亲名为Gumbri,是一位土著妇女。我出生在墨尔本北部,母亲当时就在家里的餐桌上进行分娩,因为她不被允许到医院生产。”73年前,他的祖母(充当助产士)将他带到一个土著没有基本权利的世界。

当他出生第四天,方前往墨尔本政府进行注册。“我在一个被称为“半种姓”的社会中长大。我不是黑人或者白人,是不重要的存在。白人社区对我毫无帮助,我从未接受过白人的教育制度,直到36岁才读书写字。任何人都不应犯下美化土著生活方式的错误,由于丑陋的种族主义和偏见抬头,这是非常艰辛痛苦的过程。”而在他生命走到36年后,由于歧视和不公平待遇,他承认了自己的土著血统。

“在家里,我虽然被教诲要相信自己文化的根源,但当我走出家门,我只想成为一个白人,因为这个社会差异的对待方式。”而他的英国籍妻子Maureen成为他人生的转捩点。“她尊重我,并教会我如何维护自己的权利。我是世界上最幸福的人,拥有最美丽的妻子和家人,深刻敬爱和理解真实的我。

1967年,土著们被赋予宪法权利,这也是Murrundindi永志难忘的时刻。作为墨尔本顶级私立学校的导师,这位备受欢迎和力求上进的领导者在每周日、学校和公众假期时段,于Healesville Sanctuary演奏迪吉里杜管(didgeridoo),这也是澳大利亚土著部落的传统乐器。“我的生活就是我的文化。”

By Billie Ooi-Ng Lean Gaik