If our brains work, we all live and learn daily.
This morning I awoke to discover two books printed in Mandarin, not English, that had been tossed on the floor. It seems my wife read both books in one night and didn’t get much sleep. She reads much faster in Mandarin than in English and can polish off books as if she were eating cookies.
When I asked about the two books, it turned out that one of the books was the biography of Wu Guanzhong (1919 – 2010), the father of Chinese Expressionism. This was the first I’d heard of him.
I learned he is considered the Chinese Cezanne. In fact, he is one of the fathers of expressionism.
Wu was born in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, China. He was a graduate of the National Art College in 1942, and then studied oil painting in Paris from 1947-1950.
When Wu returned to China in 1950, he taught Western art to his students at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing to 1953. He then taught art at Tsinghua University in Beijing 1953 – 1964.
Due to criticism that Wu had been influenced by Western Bourgeois ideas, in 1966, during the beginning of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Wu was told he could not paint or write about art. To avoid persecution and possibly execution by the rampaging teenage Red Guard, he burned many of his paintings.
In 1970, he was separated from his wife and spent three years working at hard labor in the countryside as part of Mao’s re-education program.
After Mao died in 1976 with China now led by Deng Xiaoping, Wu was allowed to paint again. He had his first professional solo exhibition in 1979, and succeed as a professional artist in the 1980s.
His painting of Shakespeare’s hometown was listed to sell for
RMB: 2 million ($US 318,878) – 2.5 million ($US 398,597).
During his life as an art teacher and a professional artist, his goal was to introduce French modernism to the Chinese world of art while preserving China’s cultural identity.
Wu combined his French training and Chinese background to develop a semiabstract style to depict scenes from the Chinese landscape. Before he died, Wu had solo exhibitions in major art galleries and museums around the world, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei, Korea, England and the US.
In 1992, Wu was honored by the French Ministry of Culture. He died at age 90. You may see a sample of his art from the embedded video.
Discover Silence to Beauty
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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