signed 'WONG', signed in Chinese, dated ''63' and inscribed in Chinese (lower right)
ink and color on paper
29.5 x 56 cm. (11 5/8 x 22 in.)
Painted in 1963
Private Collection, New York (acquired directly from the artist by the present owner)
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Lot Essay

The development of modern Chinese ink painting in the 20th century is broadly divided into three periods. The first period is the early years of the Republic, with the first generation of Chinese artists studying abroad, which includes artists such as Lin Fengmian and Liu Haisu. Although they learned Western painting, their works were focused on Chinese themes with Western elements employed to enhance the modernity of Chinese paintings. The second period began from the 1950s, and this second batch of artists studying overseas includes Wu Guanzhong. They were particularly influenced by Western abstract expressionism and fused elements from Chinese and Western painting. In the 1970s, these artists returned to ink painting, and attempted to incorporate the unique features of oil painting into ink painting. The third phase began in the 1950s, ushering in a new era of ink painting in Hong Kong and Taiwan. While the artists still employed Chinese painting with brush and rice paper. Western expressionist elements were apparent in their works, resulting a new style of expression which was different from both the traditional Chinese paintings and the Western abstract art works.

In the 1960s, ink painting developed in colonial Hong Kong. As proposed by Li Junyi, this was closely related to the special culture and the borderline and intermediary characteristics of Hong Kong. As a small island adjacent to the mother country, Hong Kong is where fierce conflicts between Western colonialism and Chinese nationalism occurred. The society emphasized the core values, which are freedom of thought and speech. It never blindly agreed with the West or China. It nurtured a "contentious mind" under the two extreme ideologies and values. Modern ink painting in Hong Kong shows such "contentious mindful ways of thought" – how the society of Hong Kong had risen above the conflicts between traditional Chinese and Western modern values, so to construct its cultural identity.

Hong Kong is a city of immigrants and home to many artists from the Mainland who had fled their home country due to the unstable political situation. Examples include early oil painter Yee Bon, Wucius Wong and Irene Chou in the 1940s and 50s. Since the 1950s, Wucius Wong, with background in literature studied with one of the funders of modern ink painting Lu Shoukun. Wong then created works connecting arts and literature. His paintings were poetic while having a strong sense of criticism. In 1961, Wong studied in the USA, where he was influenced by the art of modern design and abstract expressionism. Landscape (Lot 614) is produced in this period while in search of abstract art. In 1965, Wong finished her studies and returned to Hong Kong. Gradually, he becomes one of the most important artists in Hong Kong.

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