Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) A Fish Pool in the Mountain City
Lot 345
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) A Fish Pool in the Mountain City
Sold for HK$ 15,220,000 (US$ 1,963,536) inc. premium

Lot Details
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Houses in the Mountains, 1987 Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Houses in the Mountains, 1987 Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Houses in the Mountains, 1987 Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Houses in the Mountains, 1987 Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Houses in the Mountains, 1987
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
A Fish Pool in the Mountain City
Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Tu in Chinese
Dated 1987
Signed, dated and titled on the reverse
With the Hefner Galleries' label on the reverse
105cm x 78cm (41¼in x 30½in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    An American private collector, purchased at Hefner Galleries, New York, in 1989
    By descent to the present owner

    Published:
    Liu Pusheng, Cai Peixing eds. Chinese Modern and Contemporary Paintings: Wu Guanzhong, People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 1996, pp.162-163.
    Shui Tianzhong, Wang Hua eds. The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, Volume 3, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, Changsha, 2007, pp.226-227.

    吳冠中 山城鱼池 油彩畫布 木框 一九八七年作

    簽名:荼 一九八七
    背面簽名:吳冠中 山居 1987
    背面附紐約海夫納畫廊標籤

    來源:
    美國私人收藏家於1987年購自於紐約海夫納畫廊
    現由原藏家後代繼承

    出版:
    劉普生等編,《中國近現代名家畫集:吳冠中》,人民美術出版社,中國北京,1996年,頁162-163
    水天中等編,《吳冠中全集》第三卷,湖南美術出版社,中國長沙,2007年,頁226-227

    Wu Guanzhong's 'A Fish Pool in the Mountain City', or 'Mountain Village', is a masterful representation of the artist's proficiency in working with oil on canvas while simultaneously showcasing his ability to embrace the deepest roots of the Chinese landscape painting tradition. Painted later in his career at the age of 68, this composition bears witness to the fact that from his youth he studied European and Chinese painting techniques together, producing a fluent merger of the two traditions. As a member of the second generation of twentieth century Chinese artists trained in Europe, Wu Guanzhong was among several talents who experimented with oils on canvas to regenerate traditional Chinese painting following his three-year academic training in Paris. Unlike his teacher Lin Fengmian (1900-1991), Wu Guanzhong continued to paint both in oils as well as the more traditional media of ink and paper for most of his career.

    Painted in 1987, this canvas was one of a select group of oil paintings created after the artist returned to Beijing. Inspired by trips to Jiangnan and India earlier in the year, these compositions were frequently based on sketches created during his journeys. In his essay 'Hua Zhi' the seminal seventeenth century master artist and theorist Dong Qichang (1555-1636) stated his oft repeated dictum that in order to paint a landscape, an artist should read ten thousand volumes and travel ten thousand miles. Wu Guanzhong remained an ardent traveller in his later years, not only returning to Europe, but also visiting the Chinese countryside. These sojourns would be the source for some of his best-loved and most important paintings, exemplified by the current lot.

    Working in the oil medium allowed Wu Guanzhong to capture the scenic realism while conveying an understanding of late nineteenth century European innovations. Despite a minimal palette of color, daring streaks of russet and green, and touches of pink, baby blue and crimson pepper the blue-grey hills. While not the colors normally found on the palette of a Chinese landscape painter, the vivid tones enliven the canvas. This heterodox approach is perhaps a nodding reference to his close study of Modernist masters such as Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), who used color in a similar manner. Taking advantage of the effect of oil on canvas, Wu Guanzhong's brushwork is a fascinating study in this painting. The short horizontal streaks that compose the whitewashed facades of the Jiangnan buildings contrast with the organic build-up of strokes that come together to form the foreground rockery. The oil paint's texture reveals the motion of the brush, retaining the artist's spontaneity.

    The unusually large canvas, twice the height of a majority of his works in oil from this period, mimics the proportions of a traditional Chinese hanging scroll. This tall format allows Wu Guanzhong to channel Fan Kuan (active 990-1030) and the great masters of early Northern Song dynasty monumental landscape painting. With a towering central peak flanked by less dramatic mountains, the improbably sharp drop-offs and steep inclines of the mountains heightens the vertical power of the composition. The frontal perspective unified by the mountain endows the scene with a serene and balanced mood. As the flowing lines suggesting the mountains' forms can be interpreted as calligraphic, the black contours of the houses' roofs are reminiscent of the character for people (人), reiterating that the structures at the foot of the high mountains are the domain of humanity. While maintaining the literati ideal of capturing the form-likeness of the scene through the use of abstract, calligraphically inspired brush work, Wu Guanzhong revives one of the most hallowed traditions in Chinese landscape painting.

    The timeless spirit of Wu Guanzhong's 'A Fish Pool in the Mountain City' evinces the continuing relevance of the words of tenth century theoretician and painter Guo Xi (ca. 1020-1090) who wrote "In painting a landscape one attends first to the great mountain, which is called the host peak. Once the host is fixed, one may proceed with the secondary mountains, near and far, large and small. In its domination of the entire region, the host is like a ruler among his subjects, a master among servants."

    By connecting with the oldest traditions, philosophy and aesthetics of the Chinese landscape painting genre Wu Guanzhong reinforces the unbreakable bond with the past that Chinese landscape painters have relied upon for centuries. While painted a mere twenty-five years ago, this painting stands importantly in the long history of Chinese painting. Relying simultaneously on China's natural scenery and its unrivaled artistic heritage, Wu Guanzhong creates a personal yet 'national' expression through the medium of oil on canvas.

    〈山城鱼池〉(別名〈山村鱼池〉或〈山居 〉)展現吳冠中不僅在油畫方面造詣深厚,同時也深根於中國山水畫傳統。此作品在他藝術生涯後期於六十八歲完成,顯示自少年時期同時耕耘於中西繪畫兩方園圃的收獲,使他能水陸兼程,自由駕馭,讓油彩和水墨兩者相生相依。身為二十世紀第二代留學歐洲的中國藝術家成員,吳冠中在他赴巴黎學習三年後,同其他藝術家嘗試以油彩畫布探求國畫的革新。但有別於恩師林風眠(1900-1991),吳冠中在他大半職業生涯中為油彩和水墨都離不開的兩棲藝術家。

    此畫創作於1987年,為吳冠中返回北京後的精選油畫作品之一。這些作品靈感來自那年先前到江南和印度飽遊飫看後的速寫構圖。明代書畫巨擘董其昌(1555-1636)的繪畫理論〈畫旨〉一文中,有句名言「讀萬卷書,行萬里路」,流頌至今 ; 吳冠中至晚年仍外出寫生,不僅重遊歐洲,還遍歷中國鄉間。如此拍品,他最為重要和最被人推崇的作品均來自天南地北的搜奇攬勝和尋幽探秘。

    吳冠中以油彩捕捉景色的寫實,並傳達對十九世紀末歐洲創意的理解。雖然他使用的色系有限,大膽的赤褐和綠色線條以及淡抹的粉紅、淺藍和緋紅點綴著藍灰色的山間。這些顯然非中國山水畫家慣用的顏色,但明麗的色調卻為作品帶來生命力。吳冠中非正統的手法或許與他鑽研現代繪畫大師如保羅•塞尚(1839-1906)和文森•威廉•梵谷(1853-1890)的類似用色有關聯。他依仗油彩在畫布的特點,讓此作品的筆觸引人入勝,耐人尋味。橫向的短促線條構成江南房屋的白牆,而前景的石塊由自然漸層的筆觸堆疊而起,兩者相映成趣。油彩的紋理透露畫家動感的筆觸,也保留即興感。

    這個格外巨大的畫布為吳冠中同期多數油畫的兩倍高度,相似中國傳統立軸的尺寸。他以高大的形式和開創大山大水構圖的北宋大師范寬做連結。渾厚峻拔的主峰和兩側小山、異常巍峨險峻的山勢和陡立的山壁,提高了畫面氣勢逼人的直立感。壯麗山巒也讓正面視角更統一,給予畫面沈著、四平八穩之感。勾勒山峰的流動線條帶著書法韻味,而山腳黑色輪廓的「人」字形屋頂,象徵以人為本的精神。吳冠中以抽象、猶如中國書法造型的筆觸來表現景物的意境,持續了文人畫講求筆墨情趣、神形兼備之風格,也振興了中國山水畫其中最神聖的傳統。

    〈山城鱼池〉的永恆精神,體現北宋畫家及繪畫理論家郭熙(約1020-1090)的畫訣仍具現代價值。他在《林泉高致》寫道:「山水先理會大山,名為主峰。主峰已定,方作以次,近者、遠者、小者、大者,以其一境主之於此,故曰主峰,如君臣上下也。」

    吳冠中聯繫著中國山水畫最古老的傳統、思想和美學,強調與中國歷史風箏不斷線──那是一個山水畫家幾世紀以來依靠著、斷不了的線。雖然此作完成至今僅二十五年,卻在中國悠久的繪畫歷史中佔有一席之地。憑藉著中國自然景色和無可比擬的藝術傳統,吳冠中創造了一幅既個人又富民族性的油彩畫作。
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