FROM A BRAZILIAN COLLECTOR (LOTS 1371-1378)
This rare collection of works spanning Zhang Daqian’s time in South America, come from a Brazilian family collection. They were acquainted with Zhang Daqian during his time in Brazil and chanced upon his works during exhibitions in Brazil. They also purchased some works from the family of Wang Tiesheng, three of which are offered here with his dedication.
Wang Tiesheng was a representative of the Industrial & Commercial Brasileira in the 1950’s, a large soya bean company close to Porto Alegre, in Southern Brazil. According to the C. Y. Tung’s Dairy, Wang previously worked as the representative of Industrial e Comercial Brasileira, was a close friend of Tung in Brazil. When Tung visited Brazil in several occasions in the 1950s, Wang accompanied him in many of his business meetings in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
These paintings have been kept with the family for over forty years.
Post Lot Text
GLOBAL ART BY A GLOBAL ARTIST
ZHANG DAQIAN’S SPLASHED – INK MASTERPIECES
Zhang’s career was nothing if not international. After leaving China in 1949 he lived across three continents, travelling and exhibiting in global art scenes of Paris, London, New York, California, São Paulo, Mendoza, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Taipei, to name but a few. This peripatetic career exposed Zhang to an unparalleled range of influences: from the ancient Buddhist murals of Ajanta, to the towering peaks of the Alps and the Andes, to the avant-garde artistic circles of Europe and America. While Zhang’s choice of media remained rooted in the materials used in traditional Chinese painting, the visual and technical effects Zhang achieved were inspired by a truly global experience of art, culture and geography.
Nowhere was an affinity for his environment more evident than in the splashed colour works Zhang began to produce in his South American period. As a cataract in his right eye began to impede his vision in the late 1950s, Zhang began to move away from the meticulous descriptive painting he had excelled at in his earlier career. Working under the bright sun of the Southern Hemisphere in his Garden of Eight Virtues in Mogi das Cruzes near São Paolo, light and colour began to pervade his paintings. Zhang began to experiment with new techniques to create rich chromatic fields across his paintings’ surfaces, his loaded brushes filled with saturated solutions of blue-green azurite and malachite pigments. Zhang let these diffuse across his painting with minimal intervention, only occasionally lifting and turning the paper surface to guide the flow. The drying of each layer of pigment was a long process, accelerated by Zhang’s assistants carefully holding the work over a fire or warming the painting surface with an electric hairdryer. Returning to these works again and again, Zhang would spend protracted periods perfecting the right balance of shape, colour and texture to overlay his evocative landscapes.
A consummate master of not only image-making but also image-management, Zhang was careful to position his innovations in full view of the international artistic community. He famously met with Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in 1956, presenting the encounter as meeting between the artistic traditions of East and West.
Zhang was invited to participate in the São Paolo Quadricentenial International Exhibition in 1961. The São Paolo Biennale offered surveys of art from Europe, North America, and Asia, and devoted dedicated spaces to the avant-garde of contemporary Brazilian art. Each artist was reworking their formal training in a descriptive painterly technique, creating new kinds of visual immediacy. For Zhang, mountain contours were overlaid with liquid fields of brilliant pigments and impenetrable ink. Zhang developed distinctive synthetic approaches that combined abstract expression with representational draughtsmanship.
Following several successful exhibitions on the West Coast of America, Zhang permanently relocated from Brazil to California in 1968. He continued to exhibit around the globe, with local representation in the Laky Gallery who held several shows of Zhang’s work in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Under the Californian sunshine and among the imposing peaks of the Pacific Coast, Zhang’s work began to move further into abstraction. Golden colours suffused several of his paintings, and he frequently experimented with longer horizontal than vertical proportions. These new formats, used compositions analogous to his friend and contemporary, photographer Ansel Adams. The play of light and dark in Adams’ landscapes echoes the increasing importance of colour contrast in Zhang’s Californian period.
The explosive luminescence of Zhang Daqian’s splashed colour works transformed 20th century Chinese painting with its powerful emotional impact resonating with the global art world’s mid-20th century avante-garde. Yet unlike his Western contemporaries, who defined themselves through a rupture with history, Zhang formed his distinctive splashed colour style by experimenting with techniques excavated from China’s past.