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Reminiscence of Jiangnan

Wu Guanzhong1996

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Wu said, “The large-scale exhibition Wu Guanzhong: A Retrospective presented by the Hong Kong Museum of Art in the spring of 2002 was really inspiring to me. Instead of simply displaying my works as they were, the Museum traced and picked up the threads of my explorations and presented the results of my technical evolution side by side so that my artistic pursuits, my successes and my failures, as well as the joys and pains I experienced along the way were made plain for all to see. For example, Two swallows from the 1980s was displayed alongside Former residence of Qiu Jin and Gone are the swallows with the past (also known as Reminiscence of Jiangnan), each done ten years apart. I was overwhelmed because it was like I was caught red-handed and my innermost secrets were exposed. Those abstract geometric forms and those entangled moods have all arisen from interpretations of the realistic forms. When singled out and juxtaposed, works from different periods reveal what the artist had been preoccupied with all those years…. The greatest joy to an artist is none other than being understood.”

And so, Wu placed these three ‘brainchildren’ of his, namely Two swallows and its sequels Former residence of Qiu Jin and Reminiscence of Jiangnan , in the care of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

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Details

  • Title: Reminiscence of Jiangnan
  • Date Created: 1996
  • Theme: Abstract
  • Professor of the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts, Painter: Wu Guanzhong
  • Physical Dimensions: w137.8 x h68.5 cm
  • History of Donation: Donated by the artist to the Museum in 2002
  • Artist's Statement: In the words of the artist himself: “A decade after Former residence of Qiu Jin was done, I painted Reminiscence of Jiangnan. The whole of Jiangnan is captured in just a few dots and a few lines. Jiangnan is too elusive to grasp, and her wayward son has been reluctant to come home.”
  • Artist's Biography: Wu Guanzhong is one of the most important and innovative artists in 20th century Chinese art for the explorations and contributions he has made by blending the essences of the East and the West through the untiring dialogues he conducted between oil painting and ink painting. Wu was born in Yixing, Jiangsu, in 1919, and went to study in France on a national scholarship in 1946. Upon his return in 1950, he taught at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1991, he was honoured by the French Ministry of Culture with the Officier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, to be followed in 1992 by the exhibition “Wu Guanzhong: A Twentieth-century Chinese Painter”, or the first ever solo exhibition for a living Chinese artist presented by the British Museum. In 1993, he received a gold medal from the City of Paris to coincide with the exhibition “Encres Récentes de Wu Guanzhong” (“Recent Ink Paintings of Wu Guanzhong”) organized by the Musée Cernuschi, Paris. Back home in China, he was elected a deputy to the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China in 1994, and had a solo exhibition held in his honour by the Ministry of Culture in 1999. In 2002, Wu became the first Chinese national to be named Correspondant by the Academie des Beaux-Arts de I’Institut de France. In 2006, the Beijing Palace Museum ran a feature exhibition in his honour to mark its first collection of a living artist’s works, including the masterpiece, Yangtze River, done by Wu in 1974. That year also saw The Chinese University of Hong Kong conferring an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree to the artist. In 2000, Wu began making generous donations of his masterpieces to public museums both in China and overseas. Even before that, the Hong Kong Museum of Art was privileged to have received two ink paintings from the artist in 1995, to be followed by twelve oil paintings, ink paintings and manuscripts in 2002. In 2009, Wu donated another thirty-three paintings mostly done between 2005 and 2009 to the Museum. Then in 2010, Wu donated five more paintings, including his last works, to the Museum.
  • Type: Ink on paper

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