Floral Oil Painting From Hong Kong!


When I was a kid my dad often went to Taiwan on business. And after conducting business, he often spent a day or two in Hong Kong with a huge shopping list his loving family (that would be us) compiled for him to get. (I suppose if he did not come home with it, we would be less than loving.) We kids really liked to get stuff (and we still do! Hint, hint) but we also just liked to casually mention to our friends that "oh, yeah, our dad's in Hong Kong again" and act like it was one big bore. (Hey, when you're only ten things like that seem really important.)

This was back in the Seventies, when going to Hong Kong was still a wildly exotic thing that relatively few people did. Import stores were only then just catching on, and the products they sold were ludicrously expensive. We'd see these things in the import stores and then Dad would pick up the same stuff on the streets in Hong Kong for virtually nothing. Way cool. If eBay had existed I probably would be selling it all on eBay, but I threw out a great deal of that stuff fifteen or twenty years ago. Oh well.

Sure, he got the usual stuff--bronze statues, intricately carved soapstone and wood carvings, vases and jewelry galore. But one trip we asked him to get art work. We were expecting stuff like sumi-e paintings and mountains and willow trees and bridges and whatnot. And to be honest, some government official in Taiwan once gave him a really nice ink painting along those lines. That probably inspired us to ask Dad to bring back more on his next trip.

But dear ol' Dad traveled several thousands of miles so he could get basically European-style paintings from some anonymous painter somewhere in Hong Kong. He probably ate at McDonald's or Burger King or KFC at some point, too. Funny how people do that, huh? I know he at least had some ice cream, because my whole family are epic ice cream eaters. But in typical Eastern fashion the shops in Hong Kong did not sell ice cream by the half-gallon, like my family requires. Instead they used these little tiny scoops (by my family's standards) so that people would get a reasonable amount instead of making utter pigs of themselves in public. Dad created something of a scene once or twice going into such a shop and ordering ten of these scoops at a time.

Again, this was back in the Seventies, so maybe nowadays the poor residents of Hong Kong are less shocked by the excessive demands of their American visitors. Or maybe it was just that my dad isn't a really big guy or anything, so it threw them off. He doesn't LOOK like a glutton. And he's not. He's always been like a hair under six feet, maybe weighs 170, plays tennis. He just likes ice cream. (I suppose I should be glad I cannot get green tea ice cream in half gallons or within the span of a month I'm sure I WOULD look like a glutton, as well...but since I have to go out to eat to get it and I don't want to look like a freak in public by asking for two or three servings, my intake is artifically moderated...)

Anyway, on one trip he came back with some paintings he liked that weren't at all Asian, but European-style oils of European-style still-lifes of flowers in a pot. Even the signature, as you can see, is in the regular alphabet instead of characters. I have no idea who this person is or if this is an original design or a copy of some famous painting I should know about. (Hey--public schools. Whaddaya want.) To me a floral is a floral, unless it's by someone whose style I can easily identify, like Van Gogh or Picasso. This is obviously not them.And good luck reading the sig. I'm guessing it says "S. O. Lun", but don't hold me to it. It might be "Lin" instead.

Knowing Dad he got it really cheap no matter who painted it. The framing is really cheap, at the very least. And the years have been less than kind to it. I think it's been stuffed in the back of a closet for several years. It looks like something brown other than paint was accidentally dripped on it in spots. And there's a slight crack in the paint up near the top, just to the left of the white flower. I don't know the first thing about fixing or cleaning oil paintings, so what you see is what you get.

Oh, yeah, and my dad, in his infinite wisdom and knowledge of fine art, wrote his initials on the back of the canvas with what looks like a Sharpie. (It says "JFK", if you can't squint that good.) Yup. I think he did it to separate his stuff from his coworkers' while they were going through customs. I imagine even the most callous, cynical seen-it-all art collectors are cringing over THAT one. But it hasn't bled through in thirty-some odd years, so I'm guessing it's probably not going to, anytime soon.

So if anyone out there is in the market for a Near Eastern interpretation of a European-style floral still-life oil painting, or if you just happen to like it, here ya go. It's pleasant enough. I just don't want it in the closet anymore. It's painted on canvas, stretched on a wooden frame and inserted into a rather cheesy bigger frame. The canvas itself measures about ten inches wide and twelve inches high. The frame adds another four inches to each dimension, so the whole thing measures around 14 inches wide and 16 inches high. The frame (did I mention it was a tad cheesy?) is made of some rough cloth and gold-painted wood, and the paint is chipping and flaking in several spots, which makes it look its full thirty-odd years.

It was painted some time in the Seventies by someone living in Hong Kong, which is where my dad bought it. And that's all there is to say about it. If you want it, take it. I'll throw in the Certificate of Craptacularity, too, to make it even MORE valuable--if not in the fine art market, at least when you regift it to that lucky person in your life.