LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)
LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)

Autumn Mountain

LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)
Autumn Mountain
signed in Chinese (lower left)
ink and colour on paper
66.5 x 69.5 cm. (26 1/8 x 27 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1960s
one seal of the artist
Formerly the Property from Ms Yuan Xiangwen Collection
This work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity issued by Ms Yuan Xiangwen.
Xiao Fuyuan ed.,Tianjin People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Masters of Modern Chinese Painting: Lin FengMian, Tianjin, China, 2005 (illustrated, p. 67).

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Lot Essay

"He told Su Tienchi that he wanted to paint a 'new landscape’, perhaps that is this." - Lang Shaojun

Autumn Mountain used to reside in the collection of Lin Fengmian’s good friend Ms. Yuan Xiangwen, who first met Lin through her husband Pan Qiliu (a student of Lin’s). She stayed by Lin’s side to take care of him throughout the Cultural Revolution, therefore when Lin decided to depart Shanghai for Hong Kong, he left behind a collection of paintings, including this one. Autumn Mountain was completed in the 1960s, when Lin had already quit teaching and settled in Shanghai’s Nanchang Road. In the 1950s, a trend to sketch from nature drove many Chinese painters towards the countryside, many masters such as Pan Tianshou and Li Keran created great works from China’s hinterland, and Lin was no exception. During this period, he ventured into nature and found his muse in Suzhou’s Tianping Mountain – amidst the deep autumn scene, he found poetry in colour, shape, and space. When Lin passed by Su Tianchi’s home on his return journey, he even noted with excitement that the journey had been so rewarding, he is ready to paint a “new landscape”. From the 1950s onwards, Lin on numerous occasions repainted this beautiful autumn scene from memory, and in each iteration one can discern a new variation in the colourisation of the leaves, riverbanks, and villages, making this Autumn series among the most influential works from Lin’s mature period.

Landscape paintings is a key focus in Lin’s attempt to revolutionise painting: he invented a brand new aesthetic for landscapes by taking in the Impressionists’ use of light and colour, and combining them with the concept of colourful harmony from traditional Chinese ink wash paintings. The rich and palpable use of paint in Autumn Mountain displays Lin’s deliberate deepening of the texture, stabilising the runny and liquid nature of ink wash painting and reinventing it with heavier paints. The colouring technique of layering paint and ink results in a lavish and substantial painting without feeling encumbered, and the interweaving coatings of water-based paints thus create a new kind of landscape paintings. Lin mixed green with vermillion, chestnut, and maroon, using extremely fine brushstrokes to create the effect of light piercing through the trees and bushes, to illustrate mother nature giving the luscious maple trees a new coat of red that is resplendent in its symbolism of autumn, yet still achieving lightness, freshness, and transparency despite the thickly-layered paints. The forest and the huts are tightly related and ordered in their composition; the river’s surface, gentle slopes, faraway mountains, and the skies are scaled proportionately with distance to create dimensionality on the flat plane. In this ethereal and distant atmosphere, viewers get to experience this vista from close to far and feel Lin’s artistic conception from the tangible to the intangible, fully revealing the artist’s mastery in composition.

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