Hou Beiren, “Mountain Temple”, 2016, Ink and Color on Paper, 33 x 59 Inches, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, California
Hou Beiren was born in 1917 in Liaoning Province. A painter, scholar, author and poet who studied painting with Huang Binghong and Zheng Shiqiao, Hou Beiren’s art works embody the traditional Chinese literati spirit. Yet, Hou Beiren has adapted his style to today’s contemporary world. Hou Beiren is considered one of China’s last living master literati artists. His poetry pays homage to literati artists and poets of Chinese history and redefines the ancient form of literati painting style.
While in China, Hou Beiren was already a prolific writer. When Hou Beiren left China in 1949 and moved to Hong Kong for seven years, in addition to his artistic pursuits, he became one of the active leaders in the development of Hong Kong’s modern Chinese literature movement. He published several books and many articles under the names Hou Beiren (侯北人), Duan Muqing (端木青) and Hou Haiyu (侯海域). Hong Kong is also significant historically as the city where Hou Beiren and Zhang Daqian began their decades-long conversation, discovery and individual style development of “splash color ink” in Chinese painting.
As a resident of California since 1956, Hou Beiren made many trips to Yosemite Valley and other local natural sites for inspiration. There, he began to incorporate new innovations such as “wild cursive” (狂草) brush strokes, contemporary abstract structures, and a vibrant, contemporary color pallet.