2756
2756
Wu Guanzhong
ANCIENT TREE
Estimate
1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 4,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
2756
Wu Guanzhong
ANCIENT TREE
Estimate
1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 4,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Chinese Paintings

|
Hong Kong

Wu Guanzhong
(1919-2010)
ANCIENT TREE
signed WU GUANZHONG, dated 2000, and with two seals of the artist
ink and colour on paper, framed
69 by 54 cm. 27¼ by 21¼ in.
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Literature

The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, vol. VIII, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, August 2007, p.185

Catalogue Note

"Having the same admiration for old trees as Ma Zhiyuan, I have depicted countless withered vines and gnarled trees in my works. The giant ancient tree in this work originates from a small oil painting I drew in Guizhou in the 1970s…The tree, shadowed, looked wilting with its cloud of dense foliage rustling in the breeze and the drapery of tangling vines. It appears particularly lonely against the pale red sky, not even with the companion of magpies. This tree, desolate and abandoned, stands upright in the twilight – it is the heartbroken one far, far from home."

– Wu Guanzhong

 

Over old trees wreathed with rotten vines fly evening crows;

Under a small bridge near a cottage a stream flows;

On ancient road in the west wind a lean horse goes.

Westward declines the sun;

Far, far from home is the heartbroken one.

“Autumn Thoughts” by Yuan Dynasty poet Ma Zhiyuan

[English translation by Xu Yuanchong (1921-)]

While Wu Guanzhong is known for his quest for revolutionizing Chinese paintings using Western techniques, it is noteworthy that classical poems remained his source of inspiration and their imageries have been incorporated into his works, most of the time implicitly. Ancient Trees, whose composition is derived almost entirely from Ma Zhiyuan’s poem, stands as an exceptional example of his exploration of the convertibility between poetry and painting.

 

Comparing to its first rendition, a realistic oil painting executed in 1972,  Ancient Trees deploys a minimalistic composition and a more dramatic use of colours. Revisiting this theme in 2000, the artist intentionally left out the cottage and stone wall in the original composition and instead fill the background with watery shades of pink, emphasizing the integral parts of the poetic imageries - old trees, rotten vines, sunset. The poetic lines were also not inscribed on the work as the artist believed “a large group of words diminishes the structural beauty of the composition”. The autumnal foliage and withered flowers in red, green, and yellow, serving as the sole decoration to the tree, amplify the solitary sentiment rendered in the poem. With the daring spirit of the artist, Ancient Trees attests to the famous Chinese saying that “picture is a soundless poem”.

Fine Chinese Paintings

|
Hong Kong