Chinese Modern Art pioneer Wu Guanzhong's US$2.5 million flower painting led China

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Chinese Modern Art pioneer Wu Guanzhong's US$2.5 million flower painting led China

Chinese Modern Art pioneer Wu Guanzhong's US$2.5 million flower painting led China

A masterpiece by a Chinese Modern Art pioneer was the leading lot at an auction sale last week.Wu Guanzhong’s Clove Flowers was sold for HK$20 million (around US$2.5 million) dollars. It was held at the China Guardian Hong Kong’s Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Sale.To get more chinese culture news, you can visit shine news official website.

The sale total was approximately HK$143 million (around US$18.3 million) dollars. Alongside Wu's painting, the second and third most expensive paintings were sold for more than HK$10 million dollars.Wu Guanzhong's oil painting, Clove Flowers, was estimated at HK$8 to 16 million dollars. The auctioneer, John Chong, started the bidding at HK$7.2 million dollars. On-site, telephone and online buyers from Hong Kong and Beijing made bids. After 11 bids, the bidding price became HK$10 million dollars.

After that, the bidding war was contested between Vita Chen, General Manager of the Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Department; and gentlemen at the auctions. After 10 further bids, the hammer was dropped at HK$17 million dollars – more than double than its low estimate. The painting was sold at HK$20 million (around US$2.5 million) dollars to a gentleman with paddle number 239.

This painting was the artist's dedication to his wife. In 1991, Wu Guanzhong was a well-known artist at home and abroad. He was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He was also preparing for a large-scale solo exhibition to be held at the British Museum in 1992. However, in the spring of that year, his wife suffered from a serious illness, which made Wu Guanzhong too worried to paint.

During this period, he saw the old manuscript of his wife's painting of clove flowers, and was encouraged to start painting again. In his writing Selected Works, he wrote "I usually don't draw flowers. Seeing my wife's old manuscript cloves, I imitate it." Wu Guanzhong created only 10 still life oil paintings of vase flowers in his entire life. This is the only work with the theme of clove flowers, which is included in Wu Guanzhong's catalogue raisonne called Self-Selected Works (1992). The book only included 65 oil paintings that the Chinese artist thought was the best suited, and this painting is one of them.

Both the bouquet and the background behind vividly reflect a form of simplification - the purified yellow, red, green and other small colour dots closely blended with the white and pink large colour blocks, showing a a sense of changing repetition. Thus, in the conversion of points, lines and surfaces, the rhythm of life itself displayed with colour and brush.

In 1992, the work was exhibited at Taipei's Shinkong Mitsukoshi Who Dances with Silver Hair exhibition. After the current collector bought the work from the exhibition, it was kept for 30 years and never appeared publicly until its auction debut now.The second most expensive lot was Lin's Lotus. This work was estimated at HK$2.5 to 4.5 million dollars. The auctioneer started the auction at HK$2.2 million. Buyers from Beijing, Hong Kong and online bids were received, and the competition was fierce. The bidding gradually increased by HK$200,000, 500,000, and 800,000. After 30 bids, the hammer was finally dropped at HK$10 million dollars – 4 times its low estimate. It was sold at HK$11.85 million (around US$1.5 million) dollars.

Lotus is a rectangular shape, with a width of 137.5 cm. This is uncommonly found in Lin Fengmian's works, as most of his works are squarish. There are only 53 of these larger works, six of which are paintings depicting lotuses. This Lotus painting is the largest of the six works.This painting is mainly painted using different intonations of green and white. The lotus flowers' beauty are depicted - from their birth to full bloom.

Lin chose to paint lotuses because he was Principal at Hangzhou Art College, and saw lotus blossom every summer. Lotus was painted in the 1980s, when Lin Fengmian left Hangzhou for Hong Kong. Painting lotuses can be considered as the artist's nostalgia for his youth.

This work originally belonged to the old collection of the renowned Hong Kong collector, Wang Lianfon. He collected more than 80 works by Lin Fengmian in his lifetime and the two men became friends. This year, Lotus appeared in auction for the first time.

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