Author: SU TIANCI 苏天赐
Signed and dated: Painted in 1985
Final Price: RMB 1,600,000
2008 Su Tianci / P312 / Jiangsu Fine Arts Publishing House
Acquired from the artist’s family.
Su Tianci is one of the greatest among the second-generation Chinese oil painters. His works are poetic and contains a long-lasting Chinese spirit. Su took up oil painting, a western art genre , and fit it into the Chinese context, constructing a unique aesthetics and spiritual dimension. His flower works are full of life and vitality. They are regarded as representative of the Chinese style of art. This work, titled The Azalea and created in 1985, is one of Su Tianci’s finest pieces. Here you are also witnessing the debut of this beautiful piece of flower painting.
During the Cultural Revolution, Su Tianci called himself “a pot of water that could never boil. It goes on and off, waiting for the stove to renew itself.” After the reform and opening-up, Su’s artistic pursuit blossomed again. He entered a perfect state of art creation. He has a complete mastery of how to employ western art to best represent Chinese artworks.” During this period, Su Tianci was even more firmly determined in his pursuit of expressing the oriental essence, not only in terms of its form but also its spirit. This work of art, with its glowing azaleas and exuberant vitality, is the perfect reflection of his state of mind at that time. The flowers of Su’s works are cool colors such as green, light blue, and plain white, echoing the immaculate, classic, and innocent qualities of scholars. The Azalea’s large areas of red as the background are intense and gorgeous -- much like the ancient Chinese bronze wares, the Han frescoes, the Buddha statues in grottoes, and even the Chinese folk arts -- conveying a sense of romanticism and vitality, rather than a sense of delicacy seemingly shared by the literati and flowers. After the Cultural Revolution, China has embarked on a fast track, and Chinese people have never been so empowered and full of confidence. As opposed to the red background, we see white touched with pink and light blue. Under his brush, the flowers grow freely. His flexible strokes outline the stamens and petals. Smoothness is created with flowing strokes and lines. Beautiful colors are combined with changing and meaningful lines: The hard black lines with white branches remind people of the plum blossoms commonly seen in traditional Chinese paintings. Its branches might be thin, but also hard and stubborn. The way that the petals are drawn has certain characteristics of Chinese calligraphy. The winding strokes express the power of the flower itself and also reflect Su Tianci’s intention in choosing this traditional way of painting.
The spatial arrangement of The Azalea is also a combination of the eastern and western styles of art. With its color perspective, the depth of the painting is reflected in the flowers, while the background remains flat and light, which gently brings out a flavor of simplicity, attenuates the depth and renders it integrated with the flowers in the foreground. This feature is a hallmark of Su’s works flower paintings. The Azalea is a special piece of art. Created in the 80s, it carries a sense of joy and vitality rarely seen among Su’s works. On the other hand, it not only brought new art styles to the traditional Chinese art but also broadened our understanding of Su Tianci’s artworks, especially his flower paintings and the ensemble.