SIN GING VILLAGE, 1936

Important Australian and International Fine Art
Sydney
10 May 2017
6

IAN FAIRWEATHER

(1891 – 1974)
SIN GING VILLAGE, 1936

oil and pencil on plywood

49.0 x 59.5 cm

bears inscription verso: 69 / AH / 1610 / Sin Ging Village

Estimate: 
$200,000 – 300,000
Provenance

Redfern Gallery, London (label attached verso)
A. Kynvett Lee Esq., London, acquired from the above March 1946
Murray Bail, Sydney
Private collection, Melbourne

Exhibited

Recent Paintings by Ian Fairweather, Redfern Gallery, London, 7 – 30 January 1937, cat. 19
Contemporary Art Society, collection arranged by the Art Exhibitions Bureau, London (label attached verso)

Catalogue text

When Sin Ging Village, 1936 was shown in Ian Fairweather’s exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, London in January 1937, the critic for the London Apollo rightly predicted: ’Fairweather if he continues as he has begun will develop into a star of the first magnitude’.1 Two brilliant works, Tombs in Peking, 1936 and Temple Yard, Peking, 1936 (sold by Deutscher and Hackett on 17 November 2010, lot 8, and 24 April 2013, lot 11 respectively) were among the twenty-seven recent paintings. Drawn mainly from Peking and Hangchow subjects, many are now secured in private collections, Tethered Horses Outside Gate, Peking, 1936 having reached the University of Western Australia as part of the Skinner Collection.

Although the 1937 exhibition catalogue lists our painting as ‘Sin Ging Village’, it has been identified as the Lin Ying Temple, Hangchow. It belongs to that 1936 Hangchow group, which includes Mulberries, Hangchow (formerly in the collection of the late Mervyn Horton); and Temple, West, Lake, Hangchow (the late James Fairfax), outstanding for their vivacity and spontaneity of handling. The beauty of the pink city of Hangchow had a special appeal. Tim Fisher, in his study of Fairweather, observed:

Fairweather’s travels within China are crucial to his later drawings. He visited the beautiful cities of China’s lake country – Suzhou, Huzhou and Hangszhou, amongst others – which left an indelible impression on him. High-spanned stone bridges and memorial arches, crowded markets and temple courtyards, light reflected off the curve of a canal: all seeped into his consciousness.2

From River Hangchow, 1933 in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, through Near Hangchow, 1938 in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, to River at Hangchow, 1945 – 47 (Deutscher and Hackett, 17 November 2010, lot 1), Fairweather returned to the subject of Hangchow many times. With sketches or conjured up from visually rich memories, they were painted in such diverse places as Buleleng at Bali, Manila and Melbourne. In Sin Ging Village, 1936 Oriental serenity gives way to dancing strokes of the paint-laden brush, pinks captivating the eye, especially when contrasted with deep blues and blue-greens. With the unpainted ground growing in importance as part of the finished painting, description is abandoned for suggestion, lyricism blending with bustle. Sin Ging Village embraces life and meditation in the moment, its crumbly, chalky surfaces and freedom of drawing denying any hint of lack of substance. Form grows out of calligraphy in that unique blend of East and West that characterizes Fairweather’s art at this time. In his review of Fairweather’s 1937 exhibition, The Times critic observed that he: ‘…is not an artist who “leaps to the eye,” but he is very well worth meeting in his reserves.’3 If impressionistic in imagery and momentary of vision, Fairweather’s art is serenely abiding.

1. Quoted in Lindsay, F., et al, The Joseph Brown Collection at NGV Australia, Melbourne, p. 120
2. Fisher, T., The Drawings of Ian Fairweather, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1997, p. 8. Hangzhou was previously romanized as Hangchow
3. ‘Paintings of China. Exhibition in London’, The Times, London, 22 January 1937, p. 17

DAVID THOMAS