Madame Song portrait by T'ang Haywen is on view in M+ Museum Hong Kong

T'ang Haywen and Madame Song were friends. They met around 1975 through Dolorès Ling, a Chinese-Austrian painter and singer then living in Paris, who hosted Song on her trips to France. T'ang painted a portrait of Madame Song.

Madame Song introduced T'ang to Yonfan Manshih, the famous Hong Kong filmmaker, author of the last photographic portrait of T'ang, published in 1991 in his book "A Chinese Portrait", along with those of Madame Song and Zao Wou-Ki.

This portrait reflects the deep emotional bond between them. She seems melancholic, distant or lost in thought. Another element amplifies the image's psychological depth: looking behind the painting, we see the outline of a sketch that has pierced the fibers of the Japanese paper and defines a face that doesn't appear to be Song's, but that of a young Asian man with fine, delicate features.

Is this a portrait upon a self-portrait, or the revelation of the matrix of all portraits?

T’ang Haywen (1927-1991)
Madame Song, c.1975
Gouache and ink on Japanese paper
Signed middle left
46.5x29cm

Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China

Exhibition in M+ Hong Kong, 29 July 2023 - 14 April 2024

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