HONG KONG - In the history of Chinese contemporary art, Wu Guanzhong occupies a decisive and essential role. Carrying the torch of the spirit of the Hangzhou School of Art, the artist was a lifelong advocate for Modernism, his passion for art remaining steadfast even when tested by extreme and difficult circumstances. In 1992, Wu became the first living artist to hold a solo exhibition at the British Museum; in 2000, he was honoured as a Correspondent to the Académie des Beaux-Arts; and in 2003, the artist received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chinese Ministry of Culture.
Whether in talent, expression, or style, Wu’s work has become a model for later generations of artists. In commemoration of the five-year anniversary of the artist’s passing, Sotheby’s has organized a Wu Guanzhong special exhibit for the Spring Evening Auction, titled ‘Nature through the Eyes of Wu Guanzhong.’ Six of the artist’s oil paintings completed between 1970 and 1990 will be on exhibit, including the joyful and vibrant A Tree in the Li Village II; the elegant and natural A Mountain of Colours; the rich and radiant Plum Blossoms; the fresh and tranquil Riverside Bamboos; the bold and vigorous Autumn onto the Wall; and the refined and graceful Lotus Flowers. Grammy Award-Winning musician Wu Tong has composed an album of four pieces as musical accompaniment for this event, and famed graphic designer Aaron Nieh has conceived and created the special catalogue. Here, painting, music, design, and text coalesce into a profound harmony, providing the audience with an entirely new experience of this great master’s life and art.
A Sublime Musical Tribute to Master Wu Guanzhong
Wu Guanzhong once said, 'Of all the arts, music is held in the highest regard.' To serve as a perfect accompaniment to the master’s paintings, musician Wu Tong presents us with four musical pieces: Quiet Snow, Distant Mountains, Spring Breeze, and Sheng Melodies. These pieces echo the ideas and philosophies of the artist and mark the first such endeavour at an Asian auction. Born in Beijing to a family of musicians, Wu Tong graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music, and in 2000, joined Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, which won the Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2010. The gestation of these four pieces arose from the musician’s study of six of the artist's paintings. Wu Tong has suffused in them the energy of vitality and truth, as well as the fusion of Eastern and Western art sensibilities. In particular, Distant Mountains, an original work, is considered a direct tribute from musician to painter. The spirited vitality of the sheng, a traditional Chinese reed instrument, evokes the tenderness and majesty of the landscapes of life. As esteemed musician Yao Qian is quoted on the back of the album, both Wu Guanzhong and Wu Tong have, 'with simplicity and purity, penetrated and fused the cultures and aesthetics of both East and West.' This truth is clearly manifested in the echo that exists between the music of this album and Wu Guanzhong’s paintings, and imbues this exhibit with the spirit of humanity.