Recognition of the Chinese Artist

The stars are aligned for T'ang Haywen (1927-1991) who has never been celebrated in this way in France with no less than 2 gallery exhibitions (Cazeau and Hervé Courtaigne), one at the Guimet museum (which received a donation of 200 works and 400 archival pieces in 2022) and an auction in Cannes at Azur Enchères on 26 June (18 works estimated from 1500 to 4000 euros). The Chinese artist, who is the third of the Paris school behind the masters Zao Wou-ki (1920-2013) and Chu Teh-Chun (1920-2014), had so far been little highlighted because, as Diana Durlanescu of the Cazeau gallery explains: "He was interested neither in the market nor in the galleries. As a true Taoist, what mattered to him was to do his work and live his art."

Essentially known to institutions, the market was timidly interested in it at the time of the dispersal of his workshop and his apartment between 1992 and 1993, on the orders of the French administration of the estates (the inks were sold for 150 francs) but the boost was given in 2015 with the creation of the T'ang Haywen Archives in Hong Kong. When the artist arrived in Paris in 1948, it was to escape his family – who forced him to take over his father's silk fabric merchant business – and to live his homosexuality freely. His need for freedom and his attachment to lyrical calligraphic painting led him to adopt the ink technique and a reduced format (70 x 50 cm), compatible with his lifestyle of frequent travel. To get around this constraint, he puts two sheets together to create diptychs, almost a signature constituting the majority of the corpus of his works.

The Cazeau gallery offers an overview of the years 1960 to 1991 (between 3,000 and 30,000 euros), including 4 portraits which were to be part of an exhibition in Hong Kong cancelled by his premature death. His oil paintings are rarer, most having been created before the 1970s. The Hervé Courtaigne gallery gives an overview, with 5 paintings in particular (the range of inks and oils is between 3,000 and 150,000 euros), in a presentation which has just been extended by one month.

Image above: The coverage of the Art Daily in Paris (Le Quotidien de l'art) on 6 June 2024.