Wu Guanzhong Gallery, Singapore Art Museum.

SINGAPORE - After the opening of Gillman Barracks on September 14, 2012, Singapore, for decades a country regarded as a global financial center, has successfully recast itself as a hub for Asian art. Of all the galleries and art institutions in Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum, with its 113 works of art donated by the celebrated Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong, is a must-see.
Wu Guanzhong was a pioneer of the modernization of Chinese art. Through bridging Chinese and Western aesthetics, his oeuvre has been an enduring source of inspiration for younger generations of Chinese artists. The unique and daring approach he took to art, by successfully incorporating traditional Chinese brushwork into Western modernism, opened up endless possibilities for Chinese oil paintings as well as ink works.

Wu Guanzhong's The Louvre Palace, 1989. Collection of National Heritage Board.

In 2008, Wu donated 113 of his paintings to the Singapore Art Museum which is the most valuable donation ever made to a public museum in Singapore. Since 2009, the exhibition Seeing the Kite Again has showcased selected works from this important collection. The title of this show is inspired by Wu’s metaphor of a kite and its connection between the artist’s life, his affection for his Chinese roots and the people around him. Wu once wrote an influential quote to sum up his artistic creation: “Art, like emotional entanglements, roves in the boundless heavens only to plunge into the arms of the sentimental. One’s heart may soar for thousands of miles but will return to his motherland. Intimate emotions linger as artistry develops.” To the artist, true art can only be expressed through interactions with the land and people he loved and cared about. It is for this reason that Wu decided to return to war-torn China in the summer of 1950 from Paris where he was studying Western art.

Open until May 5 2013, the second series of the exhibition presents us with 9 oil paintings made between the 1960s and 2003, as well as eight ink on paper works created after 1980, and aims to examine the artist’s compelling role in modern Chinese art history. As the current Wu Guanzhong Gallery in the Singapore Art Museum cannot house all 113 paintings, the collection will eventually be moved to the National Art Gallery in Singapore, a brand new visual arts institution that will open its doors to the public in 2015.