Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace
Lot 807
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace
Sold for HK$ 3,860,000 (US$ 497,663) inc. premium

Lot Details
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace
Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Tu in Chinese
Dated 86 (1986)
Signed, dated and dedicated on the reverse
61cm x 50.5cm (24in x 19¾in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: formerly in the collection of Professor Sheung Chung Ho (1937-2010), former Chairman of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (see the Note in lot 807 for a brief introduction of Sheung Chung Ho)

    吳冠中 御花園:故宮白皮松 油彩畫布 木框 一九八六年作

    簽名:荼 八六

    背面簽名:吳冠中一九八六重畫。宗豪先生留念,吳冠中又記。

    來源:前香港中文大學中國語言及文學系系主任常宗豪教授(1937-2010)舊藏(常宗豪簡介見拍品807註)

    The lacebark pine, with its tall, picturesque form and a canopy of luxuriant green, has always captured Wu Guanzhong's imagination. Devoting a section on this topic, he once wrote poignantly, "Among the various trees in the Imperial compounds, I love the lacebark pine, for its brightness and speckled trunk dominated by light gradations of green. Occasionally, a pale smear of red appears, followed by sudden flashes of black ink strokes. That is a withered, broken branch, which adds to the overall visibility of the trunk structure – the best subject for oil painting. The branches arch tastefully, twisted and full of rhythmic pleasure, while the pine needles spread evenly. Shimmering sunrays and twinkling stars shine through the green sieve of leaves to pattern the ground with spots of light. The Imperial Palace, Jingshan, Circular City, Beihai, the Summer Palace, the Royal Mausoleum of Ming......all house upright, multi-trunked lacebark pines, the most splendid few even had Imperial stipends provided for their care!" (See Wu Guanzhong, The Birth Stories of Wu Guanzhong's Works, People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 2008, p.77.)

    In 1975 alone, Wu Guanzhong consecutively created a series of oil paintings on this subject using various techniques—titled 'A Lacebark Pine of the Former Imperial Palace I', 'A Lacebark Pine of the Former Imperial Palace II' and 'A Lacebark Pine of the Former Imperial Palace III'—and in the following year, he painted 'A Lacebark Pine of the Jing Mountains' in gouache on paper. (See in sequence, Shui Tianzhong, Wang Hua eds. The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, Volume 2, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, Changsha, 2007, pp. 295, 296, 298; The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, Volume 3, p. 71.) This series of lacebark pines differs in composition and colour. 'A Lacebark Pine of the Former Imperial Palace I' shows a robust, tall tree, reinforced by the use of dark green and greyish black background colours, which add to the profound and melancholic atmosphere. As for 'A Lacebark Pine of the Former Imperial Palace II', our gaze is directed in a lofty, upward direction. Wu used an interwoven patchwork of brown and black to portray the undulating rock surfaces that curve upwards and towards the Imperial Pavilion, which appears to stand above and look down upon the entire vista. In contrast, 'A Lacebark Pine of the Former Imperial Palace III' and 'A Lacebark Pine of the Jing Mountains' present a full spread of branches and pine needles in brighter tones of silvery grey and light brown. This series of works is a testament to the artist's experimentation of this subject in various vantage points as he moved his easel repeatedly.

    The present lot 'Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace' extends Wu's preferred composition of placing a tree in the foreground against the background building. From the level view, he depicted a thick, sturdy trunk and led our attention to the rough, weathered textures of the exfoliating bark and the dented, uneven rocks. The colourfully flaking bark and the branches reaching out in all directions create a sense of escalating tension, while the Imperial Palace sits quietly on layers of ever-changing strange rocks and desolate hills, as if aloof from all worldly concerns. Wu introduced bright hues such as white, yellow and red into the dominant greys and blacks to inject geometric charm and vital energy into the scene. Not only do thick brushstrokes—at times short, at times twisted—bring about the rich layering of the rock landscape and the beauty of the peeling bark, they are also a reminder of Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)'s artistic influence.

    It is rare to find three signatures of Wu on the front and back of the canvas. The inscription on the reverse, "To Mr Chung Ho in commemoration," shows the extraordinary friendship between Wu Guanzhong and Sheung Chung Ho (1937-2010).

    Note: Sheung Chung Ho, pseudonym Shuzhai, was a native of Shandong province. He studied at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the 1960s and began his teaching career at the University after receiving his Master of Philosophy degree. In 1978, he was chairman of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature. Not only was he well-versed in the studies of ancient Chinese civilisation, he was a specialist in paleography and was passionate about the research and creation of Chinese paintings. His contributions to the promotion of Chinese arts and cultures were remarkable and profound. In 1997, Mr Sheung moved to Macao and became a professor of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Chinese History of Chu Hai College and the New Asia Institute of Advanced Chinese Studies. He also served as a consultant to the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Macao Museum. In 2005, the Macao Museum of Art held the exhibition 'Paintings and Calligraphy by Sheung Chung Ho' and published a catalogue in conjunction with the event. In recognition of his artistic contributions and achievements, the Chinese University of Hong Kong organised 'Professor Sheung Chung Ho Memorial Exhibition of Calligraphy and Painting' in 2011.

    樹形多姿、蒼翠挺拔的白皮松,令吳冠中眷戀。他曾專闢一節細膩描述:「帝王之家的樹木中,我很喜歡白皮松,白皮松亮堂,幹枝上色斑駁,淡青粉綠是主調。偶間微紅,突然又會閃出幾處墨黑的筆觸。那是枯死的斷枝,襯托幹枝顯得更加通體透明,最是油畫的好題材,它分枝瀟灑,曲折,多韻律節奏感,而松針分佈均衡,疏而漏,篩下星星陽光,滿地婆娑。故宮、景山、團城、北海、頤和園、十三陵......都擁有高大壯實的白皮松,有幾棵最華貴的都曾享有過帝皇的年俸!」(參見吳冠中著,《吳冠中畫作誕生記》,人民美術出版社,北京,2008年,頁77。)

    1975年一年間,吳冠中連續以不同的表現手法創作了一系列以白皮松為主題的油畫,分別標示為〈故宮白皮松一〉、〈故宮白皮松二〉和〈故宮白皮松三〉,又在隔年以水粉在紙上描繪了〈景山白皮松〉。(依序參見水天中等編,《吳冠中全集》第二卷,湖南美術出版社,長沙,2007年,頁295、296、298和《吳冠中全集》第三卷,頁71。)「白皮松」系列創作中的每件作品,構圖和用色均不同。〈故宮白皮松一〉呈現出碩大挺拔的松柏,深綠、灰黑的背景色調加強了畫面深沈、憂鬱之感。〈故宮白皮松二〉採仰觀視點,以迂迴的棕和黑色塊面,描繪蜿蜒攀升的山石和居高臨下的御景亭。〈故宮白皮松三〉和〈景山白皮松〉則是以較明亮的銀灰和淺褐色勾勒出茂密的枝條和針葉。這一系列作品反映藝術家多次移動畫架,變換視角,對同一題材的反覆推敲。

    此幅〈御花園:故宮白皮松〉,延續了吳冠中喜愛的「前樹後屋」構圖,以平遠視角表現雄渾粗壯的樹幹,將觀者的注意力集中在凹凸起伏、肌理嶙峋的白皮松和岩石叢。 白皮松樹皮斑駁,樹枝向四方延伸,展現無窮張力;而左側的御景亭,則靜靜佇立在層次豐富多變的奇山怪石中,與世無爭。吳冠中將白、黃、紅等斑斕色彩引入灰、黑主色調,營造出幾何美感和生動明快的氛圍。厚塗的色彩筆觸或短促或扭曲,不僅表現出白皮松的斑駁美和山石的堆疊量感,也透露吳冠中受到現代繪畫大師文森 · 梵谷(1853-1890)的影響。

    畫家於此畫正面和背面共簽名三次,相當難得。從畫布背面的「宗豪先生留念」題識,可看出吳冠中和常宗豪先生之間的非凡情誼。

    註:常宗豪(1937-2010),號恕齋,山東煙台牟平人,1960年代入讀香港中文大學,獲哲學碩士學位後留校任教,1978年接任該校中文系系主任。他不僅國學造詣深厚,專精古文字學,也熱衷於書畫研究和創作,對推廣中國文化藝術建樹良多。1997年,常宗豪先生移居澳門,續任珠海書院文史研究所及新亞研究所教授,並擔任香港藝術館及澳門博物館顧問。澳門藝術博物館於2005年為他舉行「綆短汲深:常宗豪書畫展」,並出版畫集。香港中文大學為紀念常宗豪教授的藝術成就和貢獻,在2011年舉辦「常宗豪教授紀念書畫展」。
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