WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)
WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)
WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)
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WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)

The Yulong Mountains after Rain

WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)
The Yulong Mountains after Rain
signed in Chinese and dated '96' (lower right); titled, signed and dated in Chinese (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
91.4 x 65.2 cm. (36 x 25 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1996
Private collection
Christies Hong Kong, 28 May 2016, lot 16
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong Vol. IV, Changsha , 2007 (illustrated, p. 131).

Brought to you by

Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

'When nature is drenched with rain, it's the same as with your clothes—the colours become deeper. Trees are even greener, waterfalls whiter. For more than a week I went out painting every day in the rain, and I had to blow off beads of rainwater that formed on my canvas and my paint palette. In my oil paintings I captured the beautiful foothills of Yulong Mountain, the Yulong foothills dripping with rain. I dearly love the paintings that were born on those rainy days.'
Recalling Yulong by Wu Guanzhong

In Yulong Mountains After Rain, an oil on canvas from 1996, Wu Guanzhong returned to the subject of an earlier work from his Yunnan journey, showing how vividly he remembered this dreamy snow-covered expanse of mountain. Wu’s affection for Yulong snow mountain can be traced back to his friendship with Li Lin-tsan—his roommate at Hangzhou Academy of Arts back in the 1930s who later became an art historian. At the end of the 1930s, when Li was trekking and painting scenes from life in Yunnan, he sent Wu a fountain-pen sketch that sparked Wu’s fascination with this sacred snowy mountain. A yearning to visit the mountain haunted Wu until he made his way in 1970s. In several essays written by Wu on the subject of painting from life at Yulong, he talked about how he withstood thunderstorms as he rode on a truck out from Lijiang, and afterwards waited for days in a lumberjack hut until the rain clouds dispersed so that he could glimpse the face of the snow goddess at the peak. While Wu is widely celebrated for his work in coloured ink, his choice of oils in this painting is a direct reference to the original medium he used for the on-site painting, and thus was an intimate self-reflection on the past despite having already transitioned from oils to the ink medium. Comparing this with his 1978 ink-wash painting Waterfalls at the Foot of the Yulong Mountains, with its nearly identical composition, the viewer can observe the maturity and sophisticated understanding the artist attained in his East-West fusion of oils and inks. Adopting the best of both worlds in his painting techniques enabled Wu to create an even more magnificent depiction of this mountain scene through his own naturalistic and fluid brushwork.

It is not hard to see the influence of the Northern Song master Guo Xi's brushwork in the alluring air of the woods in the present work where Wu sets out the leafy forest derives from traditional Chinese ink painting techniques. However, for his presentation of the rocks and flowing stream, Wu favours oil technique, brushing in large, flat areas of colour to produce the rough textures and volumes of the boulders. In his composition, Wu employs essentials of the 'deep distance' perspective technique of Song Dynasty landscape painting. He deepens the sense of space through Western effects of light and shadow and bright and dark tones, capturing on his canvas the deep and mysterious feeling of this secluded forest in Yunnan, with its deep valley and clear, rushing stream. Wu Guanzhong repeatedly painted Yulong Mountain; the fantastical, dreamlike quality of its sacred whiteness was an image that also symbolised the nature of his unending pursuit, since the time of his youth, of artistic dreams. Wu's persistent fascination with this mountain could be likened to Cezanne's similar fascination with and his repeated painting of his own Mont Sainte-Victoire; in both cases, their depictions of those peaks embodied, in concentrated form, much of their artistic thinking over a period of decades.

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