Famous Chinese painter Li Kuchan summed up Guan Liang’s paintings as a demonstration of “virtuosity washing over form.” Still Life can be regarded as a prime example of this description. With unrestrained brushstrokes, the forms of the flowers, fruits, and other objects are simplified, their forms warped, the brushstrokes flowing and fluent, as though completed in a single breath. Only the objects’ basic essence is retained. The concise brushwork is steady and forceful, the texture and charm of the fruits fully manifested. The artist’s application of color reveals a remarkable sensitivity in its composition of this symphony of brilliant hues, creating delightful and complementary contrast, conjuring the essence of Fauvism.
At 68 x 68 cm, the shape of Still Life, one that was underutilized by artists during the time this painting was created, emits an impression of stability. With these highly pliable dimensions, Guan Liang creates an experimental space for Western art theory, one that recalls Lin Fengmian’s classic use of square dimensions. The two artists shared many similarities in the early courses of their lives. Both came from the province of Guangdong, and both had taught as instructors at the National Academy of Art. They were also close friends, attending performances of the Chinese opera together, or embarking on excursions to paint from nature. The unusual dimensions of this painting, then, are a testament to the relationship between these two artists and the interaction and mutual influence in their art. By observing Lin Fengmian and Guan Liang’s still life pieces at this Evening Sale, one can discern the traces of a historical era within the frames of the paintings.
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