From the Collection of Dr. K. S. Lo
Born in 1910 in Mei County, San Xiang Village, Dr. K S Lo graduated from the University of Hong Kong and subsequently joined the Ren Sheng Tang Medicinal Shop, eventually becoming the manager of the firm’s real estate branch. Seeking to create a family drink that was affordable and nutritious, Dr. Lo established Vitasoy in 1940, which quickly spread to become a household name and into one of the most recognizable brands in Asia. Dr. Lo was passionate in his study and collecting of Chinese art - in the 1950’s, he began collecting Yixing teapots and later established the K. S. Lo Teaware Museum open to the public. He collected many works by artists, such as Zhang Daqian, Wu Guanzhong, and Fu Baoshi.
Reminiscent of his time in Jinggang Mountains and Jingpo Lake respectively, Jinggang Mountains and Waterfall at Jingpo Lake were created near the end of Fu Baoshi’s life when his works had fully matured. He once wrote, “The most important quality sought in Chinese painting is an artistic realism where the vitality of the subject is captured. As such paintings can come alive to the viewer, they are greatly valued as masterpieces.”
In 1960 a group of Jiangsu artists formed the Jiangsu Chinese Painting Institute, travelling around the country to sketch, visiting important landmarks from the revolution to create what is collectively known as Revolutionary Landmarks Landscape Paintings. These paintings set the tone in establishing a new look of modern Chinese painting, both in terms of subject matter and execution.
In 1963, Fu Baoshi made a trip to the Jinggang Mountains. Often referred to as the heart of the revolution, it was one of the most popular subject matters for modern Chinese painters, and reflected the socio-political situation at the time and a prelude to the Cultural Revolution that took place for ten years beginning in 1966. This piece is particularly rare in that Fu concentrates on highlighting the details and happenings on the mountains rather than portraying the mountains in his usual monumental, vertical landscape style. Symbolically, the flat plains at the top of the mountain signified the straight and direct way to revolution, while line of buses and people expressed people’s confidence and belief in the success of the revolution. Created in May 1965, Jinggang Mountains is a rare example that fully illustrates Fu’s mastery and maturity in his composition, with skillful play of light, contrasting dark mountains to the un-inked paper of the sky and mist below the cliffs.
In Waterfall at Jingpo Lake, a majestic waterfall is featured at the upper left, highlighted by surrounding rocks and trees painted with thick, dark ink. Below the dense foliage, Fu depicts artists sketching as they view the magnificent scene, perhaps a reference to the time when they sketched there. The inception of this painting may have been a commemoration of their trip together. Though small, the figures stand out with their brightly-coloured clothing. With his dramatic composition and expert utilisation of brush and ink to express contrast, Fu Baoshi fully captures the exuberance and dynamism of the landscapes that he saw during his travels.