Author: WU GUANZHONG 吴冠中
Signed and dated: Painted in 1994
Estimate: No Reserve
Final Price: RMB 98,000,000
1996 Wu Guanzhong’s Fine Selection / P56-57 / Arts de Square
2003 Wu Guanzhong-Connoissueurs’ Choice I / P212-213 / People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2007 The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong IV / P94 / Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House
2010 Unbroken Line: In memory of Wu Guanzhong/ P182-183/ Poly Art Museum
2010 Unbroken Line: In Memory of Wu Guanzhong，Poly Art Museum，Beijing
The work is to be handled and claimed in Hong Kong，China. Please contact Beijing Poly Auction Modern and Contemporary Department’s staff for further details.
In Chinese art world，especially in the late 20th century，Wu Guanzhong plays a significant role. This is not only because of his exploration and contribution to traditional water painting，but also the connection between his individual thoughts and the contemporary society reflected in his works.
In 1919，Wu was born in a peasant family in Yixing，Jiangsu province. This made his learning journey of painting extremely difficult. In 1936，Wu studied engineering at the Technology College，a subunit of Zhejiang University，for a year，and then he was determined to transfer to Hangzhou School of Art，which was against his father’s will. This marks the start of his art journey. In college，world-renown artists，such as Pan Tianshou，Lin Fengmian，Wu Dayu，Li Chaoshi and Fang Ganmin，influenced Wu greatly in developing his interest in both Chinese water painting and western oil painting. In 1946，the Chinese Ministry of Education organized its very first exam on selecting students to study abroad with government scholarship. Wu had the best performance and got the chance to study in France. This is the time when Wu’s obsession towards western art exploded and when he began to form his unique aesthetic value of arts.
In the 1950s，the idea of integrating the west into the east was introduced by a number of masters，including Xu Beihong，Lin Fengmian，Liu Haisu and Yan Wenliang. Hence，“how to discover the unique Eastern value in Chinese painting”，“how to integrate western paintings into Chinese water painting”，and “how to promote Chinese painting to a global scale” became key questions for discussion. Of course，Wu had the same questions when he travelled to France. He aimed to find a connection between Chinese painting and western painting，in order to create a dialogue between the East and the West. Thus，neither painting style dominated Wu’s artwork; rather，he aimed to integrate both at the same time. Specifically，he wanted to make the water painting more modern，and the oil painting more culturally acceptable for Chinese people. In this way，Wu formed his very own aesthetic judgment.
Landscape has always been the irreplaceable theme in Wu’s painting. He grew up in the beautiful Jiangnan area，where trees surround houses and a river flows through his town. Therefore，Wu chose Jiangnan as his eternal theme — he painted the same view in different seasons or at different time of the day，and he painted it in various forms to show his obsession towards his hometown and to fully display its beauty.
Here are two versions of Two Swallows，one made in 1988 with ink and colour on paper，and the other made in 1994 with oil on canvas. Both are great examples. In the 1988 version，he used lines and geometric blocks to make the contrast between white walls and black bricks. In this way，he created a great balance between the realistic and the abstract. It illustrates his western understanding of structures and positions，and displays his deep obsession towards the water town.
Later on，Wu created the other oil painting version in 1994. With white walls，grey tiles，and the reflective river，Jiangnan still seems quiet and elegant in the painting. Wu purposely left a large blank to show the white sky，creating a contrast with the old trees and the pair of swallows. All of these reflect his homesickness. Unlike the western style，the oil painting here seems simpler with its clean strokes，which brings a unique eastern feeling. The water painting version focuses on different blocks，which this oil painting offers more details of the view. These two versions exemplify Wu’s understanding of the dif-ference between the eastern and the western art forms，and how he take the advantages of both to reflect his memories of home.
In conclusion，both paintings of Two Swallow indicate Wu’s superior understanding and sensitivity towards the landscape in Jiangnan. As he suggested in the Art Magazine in 1962，“Landscape painting is simply picturing the view. Although I travelled all over the world，I don’t feel like I have made better paintings，because new scenery doesn’t necessarily mean new ideas or fresh feelings.” As a result，he chose to picture the most familiar view that he had the deepest feeling for. His love towards home motivates him to paint Jiangnan over and over again，and each time with a brand new understanding of the white walls and black tiles.
signed in Chinese and dated 1994