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Ladies in a garden

Lin Fengmianc 1940s

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art

When the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Lin moved to Chongqing to live on his own on the remote south bank, devoting himself heart and soul to painting until the War ended. As early as the 1940s when he was in Chongqing, Lin began painting Chinese opera characters in ink. This was also the time when his innovative “formation in square” took shape. Tranquil and peaceful, his landscapes in ink from this period often have the foreground as focus. This is the phase when Lin developed his style of ink painting. In 1946, Lin returned to Hangzhou to be reunited with his family and reacquainted with city life. In an attempt to infuse ink painting with concepts of modern Western art, Lin drew references from Cezanne’s still life, Matisse’s young women with screens, Modigliani’s ladies, and geometric forms of the Cubists. His still life, landscapes, ladies, and Chinese opera characters were then well on the road to maturity. The late 1940s also saw the birth of a new style in the broad-brushed flowers in vases, modern beauties and garden scenes. This painting is a rare survival work done in the same period when Lin was experimenting to match up the subject of ladies in traditional costume with garden scene.

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  • Title: Ladies in a garden
  • Date Created: c 1940s
  • School: Landscape, Garden
  • Physical Dimensions: w67 x h65.5 cm
  • Painter: Lin Fengmian
  • History of Acquisition: Acquired by the Museum in auction in 1989
  • Artist's Biography: A native of Guangdong, Lin Fengmian went to France in 1920 to study art. Upon graduation in 1925, he returned to China and almost immediately became the pioneer and driving force of Western modern art, and founded what is now the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. He later also included Chinese painting into his oeuvre. His favourite subjects were landscapes, wild geese with reed catkins, beauties and characters from Chinese theatre. His paintings in coloured ink reflect the influence of Western modern art on him. He adopted Cezanne’s de-constructive approach to Nature, reducing images to geometric and simple forms in pursuit of the ultimate in aesthetics. He also adopted Matisse’s Fauvist advocation of using pure colour. The economy of his brushwork and use of bright, intense colours tell us his direct perceptions of the world of nature.
  • Type: Ink and colour on paper

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