ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Magnificence of the Mountains
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
129 x 70.5 cm. (50 ¾ x 27 ¾ in.)
Signed, with one seal of the artist and one dated seal of 1965
Lot 169, 26 April 1998, Fine Modern and Contemporary Chinese Paintings, Christie’s Hong Kong.
Zhang’s second period of artistic development began after 1957 when he started experimenting in the splashed-ink style. His use of colours became more fabulous and diverse, exuding an air of magnificence and monumentality in his creations. The technique of “accumulating ink and colour” were in part derived from the Tang dynasty model of splashing ink on silk and spreading them into shapes. Undoubtedly, his exposure to different cultures and artistic styles over the course of his travels greatly inspired and added to his influences in his own creative pursuit - it was around this time his splashed-ink paintings developed into the technique that is highly revered today.
By 1965, Zhang Daqian had travelled much of the world, covering South America, Europe and Asia before he chose to make Carmel, California his home for several years to follow. Zhang’s meeting with Picasso in late July 1956 was influential in his pioneering a new path towards his approach to art creation – this period also marked Zhang’s meeting with Chinese artists practicing within the abstract realm, such as Zao Wou-ki and Sanyu, which very likely expanded his exposure and understanding towards Abstract Expressionism. Paintings completed in this year portray a multitude of subjects, from the snowstorms of the Swiss Alps to the remote settlements of Brazil, and this present painting is most likely a confluence of the many influences he gathered and assimilated of the time.
With sweeping broad swaths of ink, encouraging flowing forms, overlays of white, green, blue and red, Magnificence of the Mountains is a dramatic work contrasting to his earlier style, displaying fluid and free brushwork, powerful and innovative composition. Zhang brilliantly builds shapes, colours, and textures, creating wisps of clouds and amorphous forms to create a sense of majesty, grandeur and awe. Here, colour is integral to structure, compared to the subordinate and ornamental role it would have played in a more traditional setting – a sweeping mass of white leads the eye to the lone house, standing amongst the forceful elements of nature, opening up to an explosion of intense colour and life, conveying energy, dynamism and perpertual movement in this powerful work.