804

Details & Cataloguing

Wu Guanzhong
1919-2010
SCENERY OF THE LIJIANG RIVER

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signed in Chinese and dated 75
executed in 1975.


oil on canvas
77 by 96 cm. 30 1/4 by 37 3/4 in.
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Provenance

Plum Blossoms Gallery, Hong Kong
Acquired by a private Asian collector from the above gallery
Private Asian Collection (Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 2006)
Private Asian Collection (Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2008)

Exhibited

Hong Kong, Sotheby's Hong Kong, Treasures of the Century - Masters of 20th Century Chinese Art, October 2 - 7, 2010

Literature

20th Century Chinese Art Department, Sotheby's Hong Kong, ed., Treasures of the Century - Masters of 20th Century Chinese Art, Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2010, p. 2, 95, illustrated in colour  

 

Catalogue Note

Completed in 1975, Scenery of the Lijiang River was painted by Chinese modern master Wu Guanzhong during his most productive period. It is a rare large-scale oil painting executed during this time of his artistic development. Wu depicts a lush bamboo forest that he has had a profound affection for. He once said: "Although the bamboo forest has been a common subject matter for ancient Chinese painters, I still want to explore it more. I use oil paint to depict the forest, striving to present the lush, fluffy, swaying bamboo trees and those intertwining branches and bushy spring bamboo shoots. To some oil painters, the colour of a bamboo forest is simply monotone blue-green, while I still want to indulge myself in it."1 In the right portion of the painting, the artist leads the viewer through the lush forest towards the astonishing and picturesque Lijian River. The autumn palette Wu uses on the surface of the river is juxtaposed with the green colour of the bamboo forest and the mountain. The boat on the river and the people walking on the slope in the middle ground add a sense of vitality into this tranquil landscape. The vivid green Chinese bamboo trees in the foreground are sprouting, suggesting that a warm Spring is coming. This beautiful scene is similarly described in a Tang Dynasty poem New Bamboo in The North Garden at Chang-ku by Li He: "This spring on the sandbank, the pipe-like young bamboo standing tall and straight."

Wu once said: "I have painted Lijiang many times with oil, watercolour and ink. Each time I try to convey the beauty of the shadows falling over the mountains and the rivers. I would try to apply the colours tenderly gently and tonally – only to discover that I had captured but a single corner of the landscape." However, this corner would still reveal the eternal beauty of this great country.

[1] Wu Guanzhong, ed., The Landscape of Life, Asian Culture, Taipei, 2000, p. 140

20th Century Chinese Art

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Hong Kong