HEAVENLY LAKES: REMARKABLE MOUNTAINSCAPES BY WU GUANZHONG
"Hidden in a pine forest, Xinjiang’s heavenly lake is embraced by snowy hills. With the gently rippling water, frosty snow, and the bushy trees, it’s no wonder the Chinese also named Heavenly Lake as the Jade Pond, where the Chinese goddess, Queen Mother of the West bathes in."
In the summer of 1981, Wu Guanzhong and students of the Central Art Academy set foot in Xinjiang. Throughout this journey, he painted 33 sketches of Xinjiang’s unique scenery, including a mountain village and a ranch, these precious pieces are all collected in his sketchbook, “Travel to Xinjiang”. Amongst them, the Heavenly Lake was one of Wu’s favourite subject matters, appearing four times, and the presented artwork, Heavenly Lake in Xinjiang was one of them. In 1989, it was selected by the artist to be exhibited in his first large scale travelling exhibition in western countries.
In this work, the artist created a composition of the Heavenly Lake and its surrounding pine forests and snowy mountains with a vivid colour palette. The collision of blue, purple and green perfectly captures the lush green pine forest and its reflection on the aquamarine water. If not for the snow mountain at the back and the folk yurt of the foreground, the viewers’ eyes might blend the vast expanse of sky, water and forest. Such lavish use of bright, vibrant colours are very rarely seen in the artist’s sketches, we can imagine the artist mesmerized by the actual colours he saw in the scenery, and anxious to portray them on paper. Closer scrutiny reveals the possible use of pastel, alongside watercolour and colour pens, the meticulous arrangement of vibrant hues suggests the artist’s innovative and experimental mentality.
Four years later, the artist created Jade Pond based on this sketch, yet the style is already quite different to what we see in this sketch.
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