December 5, 2013
by fosco lucarelli
“The beauty of abstract form is extracted from concrete objects and distilled according to the intrinsic qualities of the form. The art of root carving retains certain concrete aspects, and it is considered very beautiful. This is called transforming the common and useless into the marvelous and the quality of abstract beauty is foremost in creating this effect. On the other hand, we also see some artworks that transform the marvelous into something common and useless.”
Wu Guanzhong (1919 – 2010) was widely recognized as one of the most important Chinese artists and founder of modern Chinese painting. His subjects, depicted in a style reminiscent of early 1900 Impressionism, were landscapes, waterscapes, architectures, fauna and flora of China.
He made numerous trips to Europe and in 1947 studied art in France, at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts.
When back in China, at the beginning of People’s Republic he began teaching, although his formalism wasn’t well welcome among other teachers and students. In the 1960′s, after Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, he had to destroy many of his paintings and was assigned to hard labor duties with his wife, without any possibility to paint. Only in 1972 he was allowed to paint hotel murals in Beijing and since then he undertook a number of shifts in styles and techniques: from modern oil and watercolour to traditional Chinese style, from the subject of human body and the beauty of form to landscapes. Only after the death of Mao, in 1976, Wu was able to return to his art making and started being recognized internationally. His last technique was based upon preliminary sketches, followed by a long time in the studio trying to figure out the best way to show the power of the form of the object and finally he would painty quickly and impulsively but for many hours during the day.