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

A Fountain

WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)
A Fountain
signed and dated in Chinese, and inscribed ‘PARIS’
(lower left); signed, titled and dated in Chinese (on the
oil on canvas
53.5 x 46 cm. (21 1/8 x 18 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1989
Anon. Sale, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 1 May 2005, lot 65
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Wu Guanzhong, The Art of Wu Guanzhong: Vol. III – Paris
Again, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, Guangxi, China,
2003 (illustrated, front cover, p. 45)
Shui Tianzhong & Wang Hua (ed.), The Complete Works of
Wu Guanzhong Vol. III, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House,
Changsha, China, 2007 (illustrated, p. 263).

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Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡)

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Lot Essay

While studying in Paris, I felt deeply my luck in taking the right direction, and the disaster of taking a wrong turn. The guidance of the celestials is the crux, determining the key questions of our artistic direction, which is nothing less than a matter of life and death. —A Hundred Days with Wu Guanzhong, Eastern Publishing, November 2009.

In March of 1989, Wu traveled to Paris to paint from life at the invitation of Mr. Yamazaki Mitsuo, head of the Seibu Group of Japan. Having lived there as a young student, Wu returned again at the age of nearly 70 harboring complex emotions. 'Mr. Yamazaki may not have expected how deeply his idea would resonate with me. I studied in Paris when I was young, hungry to absorb all the nutrients of the Western art world, and intoxicated by them. Forty years have passed, and I've grown old; today, to come back and paint Paris again — this new Paris — with my Eastern eyes and Eastern hands, brings me so many emotions, and they go way beyond just painting. I accepted Mr. Yamazaki’s suggestion, and arrived in Paris this year (1989) with a trace of winter chill still in the air. —Wu Guanzhong, Notes from Paris

Back in Paris again, the Paris he yearned for, Wu visited sites all around the city to paint from life. Unlike the artistic neophyte who arrived in Paris 40 years earlier, Wu was now an accomplished artist, every thought and action informed by his study of the abstract beauty of form, in both theory and practice. Paris has long been engraved in the history of art, whether in gorgeous, gaudy paintings or darker, bleaker portrayals. Wu hoped, with his 'Eastern eyes and hands,' to produce a uniquely Wu Guanzhong-styled vision of Parisian scenery.
To do so using the Eastern, abstract, and impressionistic sense of aesthetics would place a final seal on his mission of 'nationalizing oil painting.' It would create a tribute to art history, and present himself with new challenges. A Fountain was created during this period. Against a broad base of white, Wu adds light grey and grey to produce the architectural structures, placed in pleasing rhythms with a romantic air. His handling of the details of the hotel's domed roof reveals the grand scale of the building. The regular geometric figures of the rectangles and circles, plus the arc of the dome and the larger and smaller circles below it, form a stable triangular structure that lend the work an especially dignified and solemn air. This was Paris, once the port of sail for Wu Guanzhong's artistic dreams, and an international mecca for artists. Pigeons strut at leisure on the square in the foreground, and the fountains shoot both high and low, bending slightly in the breeze, in a presentation full of engaging movement. Wu Guanzhong once said that 'technique is nothing but a tool for the artist to use in expressing his feelings and moods.' His brushwork is brisk, practiced, and incisive, while his sense of composition and colour are complex. The elegance within this serene scene, and the artist's utter ease and skill in its depiction, provide ample evidence of a master at work.

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