Extract from: Beyond the Stage of Time, Volume I Realised Realms. The Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat

8 9 Th e Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat in dialogue with Sean Geer Sean Geer Let’s start o ff with a basic question: why do you produce art? Master of theWater, Pine and Stone Retreat At this point, because I can. G Which suggests that at some point you couldn’t. M Well, until I hit thirty it didn’t occur to me to do so. I was more interested in everyone else’s art. Th anks to the family business I’d been interested and immersed in art all my life, and I fi rst started to collect Chinese art, particularly snu ff bottles, in my mid-teens. But like many collectors and dealers, I had no training in drawing skills or techniques at all. G Th at seems like a bit of a handicap, perhaps suggesting some sort of leap of faith. Why did you suddenly decide to take up painting? M I had a gallery in the West End of London at the time, dealing mostly in antiques. But we had a lot of spare wall space, so I had begun to take an interest in the works of living, mostly expatriate, Chinese artists and discovered that none of them had an agent. I began to give them gallery exhibitions and gradually o ff ered to act as full-time agent for those I admired. One by one over the next few years, those I liked best all accepted my o ff er. Th ey had been more or less ignored by the contemporary art world, particularly by comparison with the attention modern western artists were enjoying, so were very receptive to the idea of a large West End gallery with enough wall space to comfortably hang a sizeable exhibition being willing to give them shows. Within a decade I found myself agent to many of the world’s leading Chinese artists, many of whom played crucial roles in my development as a painter. Perhaps the fi rst real turning point came in a conversation in the mid- 1970 s with Wang Jiqian (C. C. Wang, 1907 – 2003 ), a client who I had known for some time as a collector of antiquities. I asked him how best to go about understanding Chinese painting. He responded with the single word, ‘Paint!’ I was in his home in New York We have given current ownership where we know it, some under studio names and a few, where the owner prefers to remain anonymous, designated ‘private’. Any work sold at auction to an unknown buyer is listed as ‘Auctioned’, with the auction details and the date. Where paintings have been sold through third-party dealerships to an unknown buyer we have given the name of the dealership or agent. Any works with- out such information remain with the artist. In the rare cases where a date, measure- ment, or other information is unknown, we have simply omitted it. One of my main aims in art is to explore the process and see where it leads with each work or series and, therefore, to avoid preconception or intent in favour of spontaneity, which also applies to the inscriptions and their stories. Th e ideas behind the stories tend to arise as part of the process, and, although mostly composed and written out before being inscribed, they are only brie fl y edited for grammar, syntax and even, occasionally, for spelling. Interruptions during writing have also taken an occasional toll. Punctuation is largely absent from the inscriptions as written, following the rule for classical Chinese. We have thus taken the liberty here of smoothing over any such anomalies in transcribing the texts, resulting in occasional variations between the two. At the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, 2019

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