Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) Corner of Suzhou Garden
Lot 891
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
Corner of Suzhou Garden
HK$ 300,000 - 500,000
US$ 38,000 - 64,000

Lot Details
MODERN CHINESE PAINTINGS FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
MODERN CHINESE PAINTINGS FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
重要英國私人珍藏二十世紀中國書畫
LOTS 887-891

(introduction continued from previous lot)

Discussing the paintings which he has consigned for this auction, Sir David relates:
'I have always admired the work of Fu Baoshi, after I became familiar with the artist in the 1960s in Hong Kong. As far as his painting of 'The Scholar' is concerned, I recollect I was on a trip to the Canton Trade Fair (as it was then known) to which I was a regular visitor on behalf of Jardines in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It would have been bought from a state-owned antique shop, in which Westerners were permitted to buy art and antiques in foreign currency.

Shortly after returning from our honeymoon in June 1968, and having moved into a new house, we were burgled one night. In the early 1960s I had started collecting Chinese porcelain, jade and paintings, and about sixty pieces were stolen including a painting by Fu Baoshi. In the next couple of days, the burglary was reported in the Press several times. The thief was caught by the Police and jailed but, by then, all the stolen goods had been disposed of and were never recovered. About a week later, Mr Y.C. Huang (Huang Yu Chia, sadly now deceased) a Senior Advisor to Jardines (and my former boss in the Jardines China Trading Division) was contacted by China Resources Ltd in Hong Kong, with whom Jardines did regular and substantial business. They said they had heard of the burglary and, if I was interested in a replacement Fu Baoshi, 'they had one available'. Y.C.and I went along, and this magnificent painting of Chairman Mao's birthplace was produced. Although the cost was somewhat above my 'pay grade' at the time, I bought it and it has been a centrepiece of our paintings ever since.

I bought the smaller 'Shaoshan' view because at that time I mostly preferred Fu's landscapes to his figural paintings, and I really loved my major 'Mountain' view. The smaller version was interesting, I thought, for its different perspective and colour tones, presumably because Fu was painting it in the wooded foothills at a different time of day, so I bought it when it was offered to me in Hong Kong as a diminutive but striking pendant to the big one.

Huang Zhou was not a well-known artist when I was visiting China in the late 1960s or early 1970s, but I liked his subject matter and it only cost a very small sum at the time for such an amusing subject. I cannot remember exactly which gallery I bought it at, but it could have been either in Hong Kong at Tsi Ku Chai, or in China.

I have always admired the work of Wu Guanzhong. My wife Carolyn believes that we must have bought our 'Lake Pavilion' scene in Hong Kong in the early 80s, probably from one of the imaginative contemporary art galleries.'

These paintings are therefore all being offered at auction for the first time. They were purchased purely for pleasure by a private collector, drawn to an intriguing and unfamiliar category of art. In this way, they illustrate the pleasant and much more relaxed circumstances in which fine collections were formed in Hong Kong during the third quarter of the twentieth-century; a period when Hong Kong's cultural life thrived greatly, under the stimulus of accelerating economic prosperity throughout the region.


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Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
Corner of Suzhou Garden
Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll
With two seals of the artist
66 x 66cm (26 x 26in).

Footnotes

  • 吳冠中 觀魚 設色紙本 立軸

    鈐印:八十年代、冠中寫生

    註:「蘇州園林吸引我,屋宇亭榭之素雅、太湖石之玲瓏,垂柳依依、游魚悠悠,真是美不勝收」,自上世紀七十年代末,吳冠中便開始進行水墨媒介的探索,他以江南園林入畫,用傳統水墨表現園林的秀麗與靈氣。
    然而中式園林之美有賴於空間的迂迴,需要「遊行」的視角,方能體會造境之妙,如何將此呈現於二維畫面,是吳冠中一直思索的問題。他在《吳冠中畫作誕生記》中描述,「從倒影中書寫園林情趣」,再「表現魚之樂,園林的魚之樂」,成為其解決畫面構成的理想方法。如本幅〈觀魚〉,水塘佔據畫面近乎一半的空間,紅色錦鯉游弋其中,在波光粼粼的倒影間穿梭來去。水塘之上則為庭院,迴廊曲折,植物從牆縫中探出枝梢,俏皮的翠綠與靈動的紅魚相呼應,令觀者猶如置身於園林之中,流連忘返。
    按《吳冠中全集》收錄,以「觀魚」為主題的園林創作最早見於一九七七年。吳冠中偏愛此題材,作為對童年故鄉追憶,直至千禧年代仍然頻有佳作。蘇州園林中山石的質感、屋宇的滄桑斑駁皆給予吳冠中無限靈感,畫家在不斷凝鍊、打磨母題的過程中,構築了「風箏不斷線」的獨特風格。
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