0h, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…
~ Rudyard Kipling in The Ballad of East and West
This famous line in Rudyard Kipling’s poem is disproved with disarming beauty in the art of Wu Guanzhong (1919 – 2010), one of the China’s greatest contemporary painters whose abstract ink paintings blends the nuances of the East with the boldness of the West.
The Wu Guanzhong that most admirers know are works that date from the late 1970s when Wu drew inspiration from contemporary western art, breaking free from the great tradition of Chinese landscape paintings to create works that capture the “essence” of the form. Rendered in Chinese ink and watercolor, the viewer is treated to dreamy landscapes defined by calligraphic lines and splashes of colors and dots, mostly on a white background. The context is always Chinese, like the lingering mist of spring rain or the heaving hills of a fishing village, yet one that carries that tradition to another realm.