Painted in 1956
ink and colour on paper
19.6 x 19.4 cm. (7 3/4 x 7 3/4 in.)
This work are listed in Archives Zao Wou-Ki (Information provided by Foundation Zao Wou-Ki).
Collection of Ms. Lu Bingan(Hsiung Ping-Ming's wife)
HKD 300,000 - 500,000
USD 38,462 - 64,103
- Sold Price
Unbreakable friendship: Hsiung Ping-Ming, Wu Guanzhong and Zao Wou-Ki’s more than 60 years acquaintance
"Looking at sky of another colour is in order to paint your own sky. Once you have observed another sky, you can more acutely identify the sun and the mist in the sky here, and you can more profoundly and more intricately paint the sky here. I wish all of you the chance to travel afar and to come back to paint the paintings in your heart. And the shapes and colours in heart to be depicted is deeply connected to the shapes and colours of the homeland."
- Hsiung Ping-Ming, Traveling afar and Returning
In the early 20th century, France was the centre of international art. Artists from around the world came to this holy land of art in hopes of learning the essence behind western contemporary art. In the late 1940s, Hsiung Ping-Ming, Wu Guanzhong, and Zao Wou-Ki all studied in Paris. When facing decisions about their futures, Hsiung and Wu stayed up all night discussing whether they were to return to China. "Should we stay in Paris, the City of Arts, to be pure painters, or return to our homeland to be pioneers?" In the end, Wu chose to return to his homeland, whereas Hsiung and Zao stayed in Paris, the City of Arts, and continued their tranquil and free creative life. However, be it drifting abroad or planting roots in the home country, and despite taking different routes, these two art masters contributed to the magnificence and splendour of 20th century Chinese contemporary art.
This time, Poly Auction Hong Kong is honoured to be entrusted with the precious collection of Hsiung's widow, Ms. Lu Bingan. The collection includes The Way Home (Small) (Lot 160), the last piece completed by Hsiung before he passed away, as well as three works on paper Hsiung received as presents from Zao and Wu that had never before been seen on the market. Those works demonstrate the artists' friendship and good wishes embodied by creations that crossed time and space during an era of turmoil.
Traveling Afar and Returning
Although Hsiung's father was the famous Chinese mathematician Hsiung Ching-Lai (Xiong Qinglai), Hsiung did not take the path of science. Instead, he walked the path of literature, art, and philosophy. The spirit and temperament of a literary artist dominated Hsiung's life. His creations are full of humanistic temperament and the heart of a child. Hsiung studied philosophy. In 1947, he obtained a government scholarship to study in France, and he studied at University de Paris for a PhD degree. Later, he transferred to the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts to study sculpture. Starting from philosophy, Hsiung inherited the sculpture philosophy of the western master sculptor Alberto Giacometti: a piece of work does not exist to present a certain person, event, or thing. Rather, it is the proof of eliminating the false surface, analyzing and exploring the meaning of life, and the real process.
In the 1990s, Hsiung started creating The Way Home. This piece, created in the early 90s, was of a larger scale, and the postures of the person and the horse were straighter. Later on, the artist kept making adjustments. Eventually, in 2001, he employed cast copper and completed The Way Home (Small), which is presented this time, the last piece created in the artist's lifetime. The scale of the work The Way Home (Small) is smaller, and the lines of the person and the horse are more curving, reflecting the eagerness of the old artist to return to his homeland. In the creation The Way Home (Small), the artist removed the depiction of the muscles of the subjects, leaving only image symbols thin like skeletons. The work retains the deep and shallow knife carves from sculpting. The person and the horse are posed as if walking on a single wooden bridge, calling to mind the Chinese imagery of "water singing under a small bridge, with cottages nearby." The rider and the horse are on their way, rushing back to their home afar. Their bodies, after experiencing the vicissitudes of life, have decayed, as if about to be merged with the land and the space and time. The image reminds the viewer of the lines "On an old and barren road, autumn wind blows, and the devastated traveler is still drifting in a place far away from home." Hsiung's longing to return to his homeland is fully expressed in this piece. To be presented, The Way Home (Small) will come with two manuscripts from Hsiung, composed when he was drafting The Way Home series, and they are highly valuable for academic research.
The Proof of a Lasting Friendship
The three artists in a foreign land, Zao, Hsiung, and Chu Teh-Chun, were called the "Three Swordsmen of Paris," representing the highest achievement in art obtained by Chinese people in the City of Arts in the West. Although Zao and Hsiung had different creative directions, they were always good friends who cherished each other. In the 1950s, Zao was suggested by his mentor Lin Fengmian to return to the roots of Chinese culture, and he discovered the artistic conception and aesthetic perception in pictograms, which Zao reorganized for recreation. Sans titre (Lot 162) was created in 1956. Its background is in ink green, and in the centre of the picture is a bright aqua moon. Lines similar to oracle bone scripts are distributed in the picture space, and the ink is bloomed to create shades of lines, thick and thin. The mottled voids between the ink lines and the subtly-revealed rose red give the picture a mysterious and secluded feeling. This intricate work, which has never before appeared on the market, is one Hsiung exchanged with Zao in the 1950s as a symbol of the precious friendship between the young artists.
Sans titre (Lot 161), painted in 1996, on the other hand, reflects Zao's creation trend in Chinese landscape painting in his late period. He employed the "Five Colours of Ink" (burnt, thick, dry, light, and wet) to construct the vague sense of space among the blank left and the lines of different shades. On January 23, 1999, Hsiung and Lu happily married. At the wedding banquet, Zao and his wife sent this Chinese ink work Sans titre to wish them marital bliss.
This series of four pieces with profound meanings-Zao's 1950s oracle bone script work on paper Sans titre, his Chinese ink work Sans titre in his late period, Wu's masterpiece Household of Birch Trees (Lot 159) from the 1970s, and Hsiung's last piece of work The Way Home (Small)-present a full picture of the splendid art roads of the 20th century Chinese art masters who studied in France and either stayed or returned to China, and their long-lasting friendship. These works are truly treasures rarely seen on the collection market.