Internationally acclaimed master of painting Wu Guanzhong had offered Hong Kong another generous donation of 33 paintings, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, announced today (November 13), adding that the donation would become a significant permanent collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
To provide an opportunity for the community to appreciate Wu's work, the Museum of Art will hold an exhibition in March to showcase the latest donation along with its existing collection of Wu's works.
Speaking at today's press briefing, Mr Tsang said it was Wu's third donation, showing his deep affection for Hong Kong. This donation is mainly a selection of Wu's works from 2005 to 2009, comprising 12 oil paintings and 21 ink works. Together with the previous donations, the artworks illustrate his artistic development and achievements.
"As early as in 1995, the Hong Kong Museum of Art received the first gift of two ink paintings from the artist. In 2002, the museum further received 12 oil paintings, ink works and a sketch from Wu, including the most important masterpiece 'Two Swallows' and on-site sketching 'Victoria Harbour'," Mr Tsang said.
"Over the years the Museum of Art has received continuous support and trust from the community, and donations from world renowned collectors and artists. To name a few, the tea ware collection from Dr K.S. Lo, the Xubaizai collection of calligraphy and paintings from Mr Low Chuck Tiew, as well as the latest collection of works of Ding Yanyong. Wu's donation is an invaluable artistic asset to Hong Kong which greatly enriches our cultural landscape," he added.
A significant figure in Chinese art history in the 20th century, Wu has made a great contribution to the practise of integrating Chinese and Western art. Wu was born in 1919 in Yixing, Jiangsu. In 1946, he was selected as the most outstanding candidate for government-funded fine arts studies in Paris. In 1950, he returned to China and was assigned to teach at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and later transferred to other institutions. In 1991, he was granted the Officer de L'Ordre des Arts et des Letters by the Ministry of Culture of France. In 1992, the British Museum organised "Wu Guanzhong: A Twentieth Century Chinese Painter", the first the museum to present an exhibition of work by a living Chinese artist. In 2002, he was the first Chinese artist selected for the Medaille des Arts et Lettres by the Academie des Beaux-Arts de L'Institut de France. In 2006, he donated his representative oil painting "Along the Yangtze River 1974" to the Palace Museum - the first time the museum had collected the work of a living artist. In the same year, the Chinese University of Hong Kong granted an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters to Wu.
The connection between Wu and Hong Kong was built 60 years ago. On his way to China from Marseille, France, by ship, he went ashore and stayed in Hong Kong for a short period. In 1985, he came to Hong Kong again and was surprised by the rapid changes of the past 30 years that had transformed the city into a metropolis. From then on, he came to Hong Kong several times for different activities. In 1990, he was invited to sketch soon-to-be-redeveloped old districts by the then Land Development Corporation to interpret their history with his artistic eye. In 1995, the Museum of Art presented the "Vision and Revision: Wu Guanzhong" exhibition and in 2002 "Wu Guanzhong: A Retrospective", which were well received, with overwhelming public response and admiration for his art.
Wu's latest donation includes 12 oil paintings done between 2008 and 2009. Five of them were inspired by his earlier ink works, "The Farthest Corner of the World", "Mending Nets", "Grains in Abundance", "Warm Water", and "A Land of My Own". Works such as "The Call of the Gods", "Abode in the Colourful Lake", "Day and Night", "The Cool of the Evening" and "Rain or Shine" are a continuation of his creations in a semi-abstract manner in the late 1990s, while the "Patchwork" and "Swallows in Flight" move away from figurative to become almost abstract.
The 21 ink works included in the donation are full of variety. "Dandelions" (2006), "Dozing" (2007), "Shadow in Red" (2008) and the most recent "Leaving Youth behind" and "The Aloof" (2009) are still done in the figurative manner, in parallel with his concept in "Unbroken Kite String". But the forceful flows of lines, vibrant colour palates and dots in "Revival" (2007), "Spring Rain" (2008), "The Easterly Breeze Blows open the Wisteria" (2009) and "Mutation" (2009) suggest that they are no longer figurative, going far beyond their original motifs of cypress, wisteria and Jiangnan dwelling. Meanwhile, "Rebellion of the Yellow Turbans", "Bringing Back the Souls", "Hear the Thunder Roar" and "Revival" painted in 2007 and "In the Distance", "The Miluo River", "The Key to Longevity", and "The Cosmos" of 2009 demonstrate Wu's new way of painting in ink abstraction with flowing brush strokes and sprinkling colour drops, intersection of black and white, as well as interaction of solid and void, exploring the possibilities of the abstract in ink art. In addition, the five works of the new series "Chinese Characters' Spring and Autumn" also reveals Wu's unrestricted spirit and his endless artistic pursuit.
Ends/Friday, November 13, 2009
Internationally acclaimed artist Wu Guanzhong has offered Hong Kong another generous donation of 33 paintings. Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing (right), accompanied by the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu (centre), and the Curator (Xubaizhai) of the museum, Mr Szeto Yuen-kit, view works from the donation at the press briefing today (November 13) at the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware.
"The Easterly Breeze Blows Open the Wisteria", created by Wu Guanzhong in 2009, depicts the easterly breeze blowing open the wisteria. The isolated reds entangled in their midst are dots of lovesickness.
"Revival", created by Wu Guanzhong in 2007, demonstrates his new way of painting in ink abstraction with flowing brush strokes and sprinkling colour drops, intersection of black and white, as well as interaction of solid and void, exploring the possibilities of the abstract in ink art.
"Leaving Youth Behind", created by Wu Guanzhong in 2009, depicts an old tree with exposed roots, decayed lotus and breaking stalks.