WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)
Water Village
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
67 x 77 cm. (26 3⁄8 x 30 3⁄8 in.)
Two seals of the artist
Christie’s Hong Kong, Fine Modern and Contemporary Chinese Paintings, 27 October 2002, Lot 308.
Wu Guanzhong Guohua Xuan (Selected Chinese Paintings by Wu Guanzhong), Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House, 1985, p.12.
Paintings by Modern Chinese Famous Artist-Wu Guanzhong, People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, June 1996, p.31.
Wu Guanzhong: Companion, Han Mo Xuan Publisher Co., Hong Kong, 1997, p.49.
The Landscape of Life: Wu Guanzhongs Album in Art II, Joint Publishing, Beijing, 2003 p.175.
The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong Vol. V, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, August 2007, p. 239.
Paintings by Wu Guanzhong Vol. I, Jiangxi Fine Art Publishing House, March 2008, p.23.
Further details
Under Wu Guanzhong’s brush, the water village in Jiangnan remains his most melancholic subject expressing his longing for his home town. While the current work bears the title “Water Village,” it has appeared in various publications as Homes in Shaoxing or Lu Xun’s Homeland. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that this is a depiction of Lu Xun’s hometown Shaoxing. Born in Yixing, a town near Shaoxing, Wu had openly expressed his admiration for Lu Xun and his generation of writers with statements such as “Lu Xun is someone I highly respect” and “Without Lu Xun, the Chinese would be missing half of a spine.” Not only Shaoxing had served as his spiritual homeland, it has also become the central focus in his revered series of “Water Village in Jiangnan.”

Works from this series often have a level perspective, because of the complex layout of the waterways and the flat regional geography. However, in this work Wu Guanzhong chooses an elevated, aerial perspective to capture the scenery of Shaoxing. He employs his signature rectangular blocks of dark ink to highlight the uniqueness and density of the local architecture. Different colors are dotted among the ink blocks and lines to designate trees and figures on the streets. Rice paddies and interlacing waterways are shown in the distance, adding a sense of depth and volume. He has recounted his experience of this aerial perspective, “After I climbed a few small hills, my perspective and my spirit have been broadened. But a composition needs not rely on an aerial perspective! An evenly divided composition will invariably leads to an image appearing too loose. So one should choose a densely built area as the main motif, then surround it with blue-green water, running waterways between and around the homes. Now you have blocks of planes and lines of pulses, a nascent foundation. From the hilltop looking down at Shaoxing, blocks of black, white, and grey constitute a truly moving picture.” How nicely this painting has captured all the essence he articulated!

Brought to you by

Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯)
Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯) Vice President, Head of Department, Chinese Paintings

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Lot Essay

I have painted the Tibetan steppe, the Yulong Snow Mountain, towns amid the mountains, festivals in Xishuangbanna. But my favorite subject, one that I wish to revisit every year, is my home region Jiangnan.”
Wu Guanzhong

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