In the last ten years, there has been a further development in the Study of Modern Chinese Oil Painting History, more critical monographs which are related to this area has appeared. However, within the process of Chinese Oil Painting for a hundred years, so many painters took part in the artistic creation, the existing historical researches cannot fully demonstrate the overall situation. People often talk about famous masters, but in the meanwhile, those who used to have high state in Chinese Contemporary Art, and affect the development of Chinese oil painting, due to various reasons, they retreated from the stage of history, or even being forgotten and ignored by people. But their passion on art and achievements on creation still worth our treasures as well as art historical researches and studies, so that they can be put back at the artistic state they desired. This year, Christies Hong Kong's Autumn Auction has collected some works of a few well known artists who has been the first generation of Chinese oil painting, so that the whole face of the development of Chinese oil painting for a century can be presented more detail.
Rei Weiyin, who was born in Kunming, Yunnam Province in 1918, was growing up in Shanghai, and his artistic experience was also related to this place. In Rei's early age, he had admitted into Shanghai Xin Wa Yi Zhung and Shanghai Mei Zhung , which were managed by Liu Haili and others. Under the tutelage of Wang Jiyuan and Pan Yuliang, Rei had been teaching in the Shanghai Mei Zhung. After then, Rei set up studio, as well as exchanged thoughts of art with Liu Haili, being one of the most active artists in Shanghai. In 1991, he held a solo exhibition in Shanghai Art Museum; and in March 2010, Shanghai Art Museum organized "Retrospective Exhibition of Rei Waiyin". Rei is always being praised because of his "thin color painting method", which is a method diluting the paint first, when the paint become lighter and more mobile, the artist apply the strokes in ink painting to outline fine and dense lines, and lay out the painting, it forms an unique layers of color and effects of expression in the work. In Landscape by the lake (Lot 1145) and Landscape (Lot 1146), both these two works apply such a method of painting, especially when depicting waves and the view of sun shining on the tree top. Using of thin colors and fine lines, it seems that there is a soft layer of gauze covered on the canvas, presenting a texture of colors associating with thin and bright. The light level showed in the work is multi layers and ever changing, it was embodied by the artist and being presented as the sun shining and glittering on the waving surface of water, or as the sunlight going through tree shallows and moving among leaves. The work shows the style of Monet's "Lotus Pond", just like Impressionism works, expressing the changes of light in the landscape within even a second only. For the choices of colors, the artist prefers brown and green, making the landscapes in his works carrying a depressed and ancient image, as well as a strong oriental mood, that is the reason why his works always contain feel of oriental.
Among the first generation of artists in China, some of them had been gone abroad for further studies, as a result, they were under the influence of the Western Modern Art. Those artists included Sha Qi, who had been to Belgium; Hu Shanyu, who had been to France and Lin Dachuan, who had been to Japan. 1n 1930, Sha Qi went to Belgium to learn painting, he got on the same ship with Wu Zuoren. In 1939, he graduated from the Royal College of Art in Belgium, adhering to the style of Principle Bastien, who was an artist of Realism. During the period of study, Sha won the "Outstanding Arts Gold Medal", being the first Chinese student to won this prize, also, the Sha's works had been exhibited together with the works from Picasso. Because of his illness, after coming back to China, he was not able to keep creating continuously, this situation remained until in his old age, he restarted creation when he was getting old. "Still Life" (Lot 1127) is a painting created in 1991, the colors are fresh and bright, orange and dark green form a strong contrast, making the whole view of painting expressive, it is the reason why some criticizers argued that his use of colors contains the style of Van Gogh. On the other hand, the depiction of the still life is mainly and simply formed by hue of yellow, but only through the use of few stokes, it can well present the stereoscopy and texture of the fruits, as well as the extreme beauty of the flowers. The presentation of the work shows the painting techniques of the artist.
Hu Shanyu had admitted to Hangzhou National Art, studying under Lin Fengmian, Cai Weilian and so on. In 1932, he went to France and studied painting in the studio of Simon, who was a famous artist of the realism. During that period, Hu also studied with other Chinese students such as Lu Sibai, Chang Shuhong and Qin Xuanfu. Coming back to China, Hu started teaching at Hangzhou Art School and the East China Branch of the Central Academy of Fine Art. Although he studied painting under realism, there was still a strong creativity in his works. Not just confining to pure realism, Hu showed a particular texture and expressivity of colors. Xi Shuang Ban Na Scenery (Lot 1130) was created in the early 1980s, and this painting well presented the style of Hu. Making good use of purple and light blue, the work was painted by very fine strokes form layer to layer. The harmony of these two colors expresses the view of the early sunset, this expression method was similar to the style of W. Turner and Impressionism. Besides, the work applied bright colors and strong contrast extensively, especially in the area of under eaves and woodland. The contrast of color, which is formed by yellow and purple, red and green, as well as orange and blue, is depicted delicately and harmonically, highlighting a sense of pleasure and a relaxing flavor of life. The source of this aspect was taken from folk art in China and color performance of Fresco. As a result, the scenery in his painting did not tend to be stereotyped and realistic, but was often rendering the scenario and atmosphere, accompanying with a strong sense of beauty of color, the work was filled with romanticism. Sichuan Landscape was created in 1978, this painting can show Hu's characteristic of creation form another point of view. After 1975, Hu travelled to many provinces in China, including Sichuan, Dunhuang, Xinjiang, Yunnan and so on, for landscape painting. Sichuan Landscape (Lot 1129) was composed during that period of time. In this scenery painting, Hu made good use of the alternation of warm and cold color layer flexibly to show the extensity of the objects painted. The gray brown hues of faraway mountains are mixed with light blue and green. This method not only presented the vitality of mountains and rivers, but also demonstrated the thickness of the scenery as well as the progressive spacing. Whereas the streams were painted by subtle and delicate strokes, the change of light blue hue was acting like the gurgling water. Hu's expression was mainly formed by the using of dense brush, the strokes were gently and closely painted, rather than applying a pile of thick color, and therefore, a genteel and smooth feeling was expressed in the atmosphere created in the painting, and once again, it emphasized the artist's creation purpose, which is to merge the emotion of the artist into the scenery painted.
Lin Dachuan, who is a friend of Hu, is also an artist of Hu's peer. Lin had studied in Japan, under the tutelage of Ryuzaburo Umehara and Sotaro Yasui, both of them are the great masters in Japan, Lin drew the attention of the Japanese Art and had settled in Japan for a numbers of years. Lin's works are based on realism and landscape painting. In the meanwhile, he also focuses on performance of colors. In 1982, Lin had been to Dunhuang and Xinjiang with Hu and other artists, in the aims of studying and learning from Chinese folk, and then applied the elements discovered on oil paintings. In 2008, the Art Museum of China had organized the "Lin Dachuan's Oil Painting Exhibition", presenting the natural style of Lin's works. Lin's creations were being claimed to be able to show the characteristics of Chinese oil paintings with Japanese style. According to Fan Dian, the curator of the Art Museum of China, Lin's works contained typical academic significance to the study of the style of artists who had lived in Japan. Huanglong National Park (Lot 1134) and Shanghai Cityscape (Lot 1135) are good examples of this aspect. The brush strokes used in "Huanglong National Park" are delicate and multi-turn, to a certain extent carrying the style of "a rustic and indulge conception which was pointed out by reviewers. When describing the rocks, trees and pavilions, Lin repeated the steps of rubbing for several times, resulting in a rich layer contained in the simple color hues. And therefore, under Lin's description, the shape of an object is brief but comprehensive, also with a rich sense of texture. Lin moved to Shanghai in his old age, he created a number of works showing the urban landscape in Shanghai. His works are tight and serious in feature composition, but the buildings are being shown very delicate at the same time.