Liu Haisu Art Museum hosts rare exhibition

Revered artist Cui Ruzhuo is holding an exhibition of his ink-wash paintings at the Liu Haisu Art Museum. His works are highly sought-after, fetching high prices at auctions.
Ti Gong

Beijing-born artist Cui Ruzhuo is presenting his solo exhibition, entitled “Glossiness of Uncarved Jade,” and a collection of Shi Tao’s “Paintings of Arhat” at the Liu Haisu Art Museum.

Cui’s exhibition, first unveiled at the Palace Museum in Beijing in 2016, highlights his contemporary ink-wash painting skills.

The 74-year-old is often ranked among the top five in Hurun Art List, and his work has fetched over 100 million yuan (US$15.90 million) at auctions, making him the most expensive living Chinese artist.

Cui’s works have been collected by important world figures, including former US President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

His Shanghai show will be followed by an exhibition at the National Museum of China and the Palace Museum in Beijing.

In 1987, Cui met then 90-year-old Liu Haisu (1896-1994) in Hong Kong, who wrote a poem on his painting called “Clear Autumn.” 

A Taiwan collector bought this painting before Cui bought it back at an auction in 2016. This painting is also showcased at the Shanghai exhibition.

“Shanghai is the birthplace of haipai (Shanghai style) ink-wash painting,” Cui says. “Liu Haisu Art Museum is a perfect venue for me, as it reminds me of my friendship with the master.”

The exhibition features nearly 100 of his representative works. 

Ti Gong

Veteran artist and collector Cui Ruzuo

Born in 1944, Cui was a student of Li Kuchan (1899-1983), one of the masters of contemporary traditional ink-wash painting.

Cui left Beijing for the United States in 1981, but soon ran out of money in his rented basement and had no one to turn to.

Fortunately he sold a painting for US$400,000 four months after arriving in the US. The buyer introduced him to wealthy local collectors and important people in the art circles.

He started to prosper, so much so that he undertook collecting, and today his collection contains an album of paintings created by Shi Tao from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

“Self-nurturing is an important trait for a Chinese ink-wash artist,” Cui says. “For me, such self-nurturing includes a detailed study of history, which can be best done through collecting.”

Wu Hufan (1894-1968), one of the biggest collectors in Shanghai of the last century, once said: “Shi Tao’s figure paintings are superior than his landscapes.” 

But it is rare to find Shi’s figure paintings in China. Perhaps that’s why Cui was so excited when seeing this painting album in Tokyo about a decade ago. Today, the 100-sheet scroll is estimated to be worth about US$1 billion.

This is only the second time the painting has been shown to the public, the first time being in 2014 at the National Museum of China.

Exhibition details

Date: Through May 20, 10am-5pm
Venue: Liu Haisu Museum
Address: 1609 Yan’an Rd W.

Ti Gong
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