This is the first showing in London of a unique collection of Chinese art formed by the great scholar and connoisseur of Chinese painting in the West, Michael Sullivan, and his wife Khoan.
The Sullivans' collection includes art acquired over a period of sixty-five years, beginning with the work of artists who were refugees in the province of Sichuan in Western China in the 1940s to contemporary artists. Most of the works were gifts from artists, whom the Sullivans came to know over the years, so that this is a very personal collection, witness to friendships going back over many decades.
Their collection developed over the course of more than half a century to include paintings, prints, woodcuts and drawings by the principal artists of late twentieth century China, as well as works by a new generation.
The first of these two exhibitions, 'Beginnings', focuses on works which are more traditional, often showing some connection with the orthodox guohua or Chinese national style. The pieces range from the 1940s through to the late 20th century. The second exhibition, 'A New Generation', shows works produced after the Beijing Spring of 1979-81 which released a wave of creative energy marking the art of the 1980s and 1990s.
The exhibitions will be curated by Professor Sullivan, world authority on twentieth century Chinese painting. His book Chinese Art in the Twentieth Century (1959) was the first ever on the subject while Art and Artists of Twentieth Century China (1996) provides the most complete survey and includes biographies of the artists.
"The collection bears witness to the generosity of our artist friends, who felt that their work, in our hands, would be appreciated and understood." Michael Sullivan