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

A Seaside Scene

WU GUANZHONG (1919 -2010)
A Seaside Scene
signed and dated Chinese (lower left); signed and titled in Chinese (on the reverse)
gouache on paper
37 x 53 cm. (14 5/8 x 20 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1976
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Shui Tianzhong & Wang Hua (ed.), The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, Vol. III, Hunan Arts Publishing House, Changsha, China, 2007 (illustrated, p.68).
Singapore, Sin Hua Gallery, Orchard Point Exhibition Hall, Wu Guanzhong: Watercolour & Gouache Paintings, May 1990.

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Lot Essay

A Seaside Scene, brimming with vitality and promise, indicates an artistic rebirth for Wu Guanzhong. The year 1976 marked the end of China's Cultural Revolution, allowing Wu to finally immerse himself in his art. His hopes for the future are palpable in this work. The wild swaying grasses, seagulls symbolising freedom, and boats which have just set off on their voyage, express his buoyant optimism toward life and artistic creation.

A Seaside Scene is divided into three plains—the lower two-thirds of the composition are occupied by a swirling white expanse of windswept grass, commanding the viewer's gaze to follow the cool bite of the ocean breeze as it travels from the sea through the swaying brush. Winding through the field is a serpentine path, leading the viewer's gaze to the coastline and then on to where two boats have set sail. The cresting waves and gulls overhead are delineated with sparing strokes. To the right, a rocky cliff and rows of wind-stooped trees are rendered frankly in swaths of colour. As Wu Guanzhong said "Addition is simple. Artistic creation is so often rooted in the process of subtraction after addition—a so-called generalisation and refinement." A Seaside Scene reflects Wu Guangzhong's mastery of Chinese landscape and imagery, striking a conceptual balance between realism and abstraction.

In the 1970s Wu Guanzhong was at his prime, with boundless enthusiasm to create—but for political reasons, he was restricted from painting. According to The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, Wu Guanzhong painted about 200 works in oil in the 1970s, but only around 30 gouaches and watercolours during that time. In May of 1990, Sin Hua Gallery celebrated its 10th anniversary. The artist, accompanied by his wife, travelled to Singapore to attend the opening ceremony of the exhibition entitled "Wu Guanzhong: Works in Watercolour and Gouache." During this occasion, A Seaside Scene was hung behind the podium, indicating the place of great importance this work held for the artist.

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