Wu Guanzhong and Hong Kong
22 x THE CULTURIST
Memorial Exhibition of Wu Guanzhong
Exhibition Period: 2020.6.25- 2020.6.27
Exhibition Venue: Pottinger 22, Hong Kong
Wu Guanzhong and Hong Kong
Wu Guanzhong has a great affection for Hong Kong. He used to want to donate all his paintings to Hong Kong (see the article written by Fong Yuk Yan, published in Ming Pao Monthly, 2009/12). Even when later he donated them to museums at home and abroad. The important masterpiece “Two Swallows” which he favoured was offered to Hong Kong as he wished, as well as his valuable drawing tools. Wu Guanzhong’s descendants inherit his love and trust for Hong Kong. The eldest son of Wu Guanzhong, Mr Wu Keyu, continues to make several more donations to Hong Kong museums after he passed away.
Wu Guanzhong visited Hong Kong very often since 1980s. He had collaborated with Hong Kong Museum of Arts for many times. It was the virtue and professional competence of their staffs that Wu Guanzhong highly praised for. As he put it, “They read my mind”.
List of exhibitions held by Hong Kong Museum of Arts for Wu Guanzhong includes:
“Twentieth-Century Chinese Painting: Tradition and Innovation” exhibition, with one of its thematic exhibitions being “Vision and Revision: Wu Guanzhong” (This was the first special exhibition of Wu Guanzhong’s work), 10.27-12.10,2019
“Wu Guanzhong: A Retrospective”, exhibiting 124 of his representative works since the 1960s, 3.15-5.12, 2002
“Lofty Integrity: Donation of Works by Wu Guanzhong”， 3.26-10.10，2010
“Wu Guanzhong: Painting‧Dance‧Music”, 11.9.2011-4.15.2012
“Donation of Works by Wu Guanzhong 2014”, 12.14.2014-8.2.2015
Besides the exhibitions held at Hong Kong Museum of Arts, other important exhibitions are:
Hong Kong Art Centre held Wu Guanzhong’s first major solo exhibition outside mainland China back in 1987. His painting became all the rage.
We held Wu Guanzhong’s first commercial exhibition in 1989 in Hong Kong, which was a sensation of the year.
Same year in the Sotheby’s HK spring sales, Wu’s ink painting “The Ruins of Gaochang” sold for HK$1.87 million, breaking a world auction record for Chinese paintings by living artists.
Later, Wu Guanzhong went from Hong Kong to the British Museum. Kai-Yin Lo, Kai-Man Lo and I took part in organising “Wu Guanzhong: A Twentieth-Century Chinese Painter” host by the British Museum. It was the first time the British Museum held a solo exhibition for a living Asian artist, maybe the only time it did so. In 1992, the Land Development Corporation of Hong Kong invited Wu to sketch local old streets, which were to be demolished and rebuilt, and organised the “Hong Kong through the Eyes of Wu Guanzhong” exhibition. In the same year, China Artists Association and I organised the exhibition of Wu Guanzhong and his students in the National Museum of China.
Ms. Zhu Biqin, Wu Guanzhong’s wife, said to my wife, “Didn’t we start all from Hong Kong? ”
There are different exhibitions and activities in different places commemorating Wu Guanzhong’s 100th Birthday this year. We start this exhibition entitled “Wu Guanzhong and Hong Kong, Prints and Photographies” August 29th, 2019. As the title suggests, historical photos of the artist in Hong Kong will be exhibited. Wu Guanzhong loved this city. So we would love to honour the memory of him, one of the contemporary Chinese artists achieving greatest prominence, in this way.
Fong Yuk Yan