An Unbroken Line – The Wu GuanZhong Donation Collection

July 6, 2009 at 12:32 am | Posted in itchy mouth | 2 Comments
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Renowned Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong 吴冠中 made a donation of 113 of his five decades of work to the Singapore Art Musuem in 2008. Currently on show at the museum, the title of this exhibition, “风筝不断线”, is based on “a metaphor by the artists to describe the continuity and resilience of relationships and ties across generations and traditions”. “The kite refers to the artwork; the kite’s strings alludes to the connection between the artwork and its sources of inspiration as well as the emotive link between the artist and its community. This unbroken line of connection between art and artist, and artwork and audience provides the continuous flow of ideas, exchanges and dialogue. It underpins the core of his art.”

Itchyfingers made a visit to Wu Guanzhong’s exhibition recently to see for ourselves the artistic development of the artist from the 1950s to the present. Wu started painting in ink only in 1974, when he was aged 55, but “his earlier oil works were predicated on ink aesthetics as with his subsequent inks on oil foundation.”

There was a finger printing art session going on at the lobby, where many children with their mummies were happily stamping their little fingers on A4 drawings inspired by Wu GuanZhong’s exhibition.

First try….

Let your imagination run wild! Who says we can’t stamp colours on
pandas? Let mummy show you… :p

Colourful finger-printed pandas… 😀

I like his signature…very artistic :p

This is one of the paintings that I wanna see for myself! I love its simplicity –
single bold strokes for the roofs with minimal accentuation for the windows;
varying shades of blacks creating layers and the different directions applied
to the strokes break the monotony. No photography is allowed, so we could
only take a picture of this reproduced work outside the gallery….
:p Er…ya..
Itchyfingers used to be naughty and took pic of the paintings but we have since
stopped doing that….

While we were admiring the works at the ground gallery, Itchyfingers nearly had a heart attack…A family came into the gallery and stood beside us. Then suddenly the boy stretched out his hand to touch one of the oil paintings, The Five Oxen, and with much force!!!! :O I exclaimed and the next moment the parents also shouted at him not to do that and to stand behind the marked line on the floor…and they quickly moved away. My goodness!! That was the first time I witnessed someone touching masterpieces and it was not just touch, but it was more like poking and rubbing at the same time! :O Luckily the parents also reprimanded him, otherwise I think I would have told him off sternly not to do that, as I don’t think the parents could ever afford to pay for the damage if anything were to happen to the painting. The boy was at least 8 or 9 years old, so I would expect the parents to have told him not to touch anything prior entering the gallery! 😦

The Wu Village, reproduced here to lead visitors to the other galleries

Finally we found the painting I wanna see..and it was great to see the real thing for ourselves!

When we were looking at the many paintings, Itchyfingers noticed that he signed his name or chopped the red seal as ‘tu’ 荼 (see some examples here), especially on those earlier oil pieces…and we were wondering why…It was only at the upper gallery where there was a huge biography on the artist that we found out that he was using 吴茶荼 (Wu Cha Tu) as his pen name 🙂

Looking at the paintings, one can see how the styles evolved. Personally, my favourites are his stylised Hometown “Jiangnan” landscaped pieces for the simplicity and feel less for his wild lives and nude paintings. :p  If you have some time to spare, try to watch the video and see the master at work. At such ripe age, he was still able to apply powerful bold strokes on large pieces of work laid on the floor. In the artist’s word, he said, “I may be 89 years old. But that does not mean I’m too old to learn and try new tricks.” A true spirit of learning and innovating! Do catch the exhibits before it ends on the 16th August! 😀

Also see related post:
> Xu Beihong in Nanyang



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  1. i like your writeup so much. u r very cute and creative.

    • Hi Frank,

      Welcome to Itchyfingers! 😀 You are from Taiwan? Do check out our little travel journal on our Taiwan trip! 😀

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