Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cheng Man-ch'ing: Crazy Tiger Head

In plate #18, Little Things In My Garden from The Art of Cheng Man-ch'ing, published in Taipei in 1961, Cheng uses a rare seal of his, Ch'ih Hu T'ou癡虎頭or "Crazy Tiger Head."
Crazy Tiger Head originates from volume 29 of the Collected Poetry of Su Hsih, the first poem of, “Two Rhyming Poems on Mi and Pi on the Two Wang’s Colophon,” 蘇軾詩集 卷二十九、〈次韻米黻二王書跋尾二首〉、巧偷豪奪古來有一笑誰似癡虎頭·In the poem, Su describes the similarities of a great work of art, whose lively effervescence disperses from the paper, and a great artist, whose immortal presence flees from the world. Cheng certainly chose to engrave this seal with this reference as a self-effacing view his own works and his semi-hermitized artistic life, but also as a comical portrait of himself--recall his flowing whiskers and that his birth-year animal was the cat.


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