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Wu Dayu

China (1903 -  1988 )
DAYU WU Untitled Ii-511

Sotheby's
Apr 1, 2019
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Artworks in Arcadja
112

Some works of Wu Dayu

Extracted between 112 works in the catalog of Arcadja
Wu Dayu - Untitled Ii-511

Wu Dayu - Untitled Ii-511

Original 1980
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Gross Price
Lot number: 768
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Wu Dayu UNTITLED II-511 1903-1988 executed circa 1980 crayon on paper 14.7 by 10.2 cm; 5¾ by 4 in. Provenance Private Asian Collection Literature Wu Dayu: Works on paper II,Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 2010, p.288 Wu Chongli, Shou Chongning, ed.,Works of Wu Dayu, People\’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 2015, p.415
Wu Dayu - Flourishing

Wu Dayu - Flourishing

Original 1970
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Lot number: 1022
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Description:
FLOURISHING Wu Dayu 1903-1988 executed in 1970s oil on canvas 46.2 by 34 cm; 18⅛ by 13⅜ in. Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 9 April 2008, Lot 802 Acquired directly from the above by the former owner Christie's, Hong Kong, 29 May 2010, Lot 1014 Acquired directly from the above by the former owner Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 5 October 2014, Lot 1012 Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector Exhibited Taipei, National Museum of History,Exhibition of Wu Da-yu's Paintings,9 March - 8 April 2001 Literature Lin Po-yu, ed.,Exhibition of Wu Da-yu's Paintings, National Museum of History, Taipei, 2001, p. 94 Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute, ed.,Wu Dayu,Shanghai Education Press, Shanghai, 2003, p. 53 Celine Chao, ed.,Wu Da-yu, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 2006,p. 137 Shanghai Artists Association, Works of Representatives of Shanghai Artists in the Century: Wu Dayu, Shanghai Shu Hua Publishing House, Shanghai, 2013, p. 39 Wu Chongli, Shou Chongning, ed.,Works of Wu Dayu, People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 2015, p. 25 A Profusion of Dynamic Expressionism, the Blossoming of Rhythm Among the Chinese modern artists, Wu Dayu was the earliest to commit fully to abstract painting. As his paintings progressed from the representational to the abstract, their focus shifted from exterior form to interior experience. This was not merely an evolution in his style, but an aesthetic and philosophical achievement, a sublimation of his life and his wisdom. The essence of this expression of wisdom is centered around the idea of shixiang, or \“Dynamic Expressionism.\” Gaining a deeper understanding of Wu Dayu\’s abstract works requires an analysis of this, just one of his vast and profound artistic theories.The recent publication of Wu Dayu\’s collected letters and poems (Shidao and Yushi, respectively) have aided tremendously in the understanding of the theory behind Wu Dayu\’s painting. Viewing Flourishing (Lot 1022) in the context of these records, one can better appreciate the depth of the artist\’s ideas and step into his vast world of the shixiang. As early as the 1940s, Wu Dayu had imparted the theory behind shixiang in letters to fellow artists Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Wu Guanzhong, and Lalan. In one of these letters [need to know to whom this was written. it was cited, but without attribution in this essay], Wu writes: "The beauty ofshixiangis clear as ice and pure as jade. Possessing weight but not form, it is a more abstract beauty than that of any work of architecture. It is like the shadows of a piece of music, like the final, still posture that lingers after a dance, like a fine turn of phrase but not its individual words".In fact, the concept of shixiang is not to be found in modes of realistic portrayal, but rather in the traceless beauty caught by the mind\’s eye as it confronts a scene, one that cannot be discerned by the physical eye. This is a concept that cleaves closely to Zhuangzi\’s famous words, \“transcendent scenes have no form,\” and \“transcendent music has no sound.\” Wu Dayu\’s abstract paintings are often rich with this dynamism. Even when his subjects are inanimate, there exists an irrepressible sense of movement, the colours and lines clashing and uniting and emitting a fervent and magnanimous energy before the viewer\’s eyes. In Flourishing, one can see that the representational, concrete form of the vase is drowned out by the riotous colour, bright light radiating into the room from a window in the background, further breaking down the structure of the subject. The fluctuations in light and colour are imbued with the artist\’s passionate feelings toward the beauty before him. Flowers are an unending source of inspiration for Wu Dayu; he ceaselessly pursues them as a subject. In keeping with the practice of shixiang, the intent of the painting of these flowers is not simply to \“reproduce\” the physical objects, but rather to \“express\” the artist\’s state as he stands before this thriving scene. As Wu Dayu has said, \“Once you begin capturing the scene, those flowers are then folded into your own spiritual vitality.\” As he expresses in a poem: \“I\’ve fallen in love with the bright and clear flowers, Spring arriving upon your face. I\’ve fallen in love with the exquisite white jade, Its hidden depths concealing your splendor. I\’ve fallen in love with the lovely moon, It is you who suggests tomorrow\’s sun.\” In Flourishing, the brushstrokes are decisive and natural, the colours flying off the canvas, reflecting not only the artist\’s full and delighted immersion in his work, but also the enlightened and rich state of the artist\’s inner spirit. With this spirit, he plants the flowers blooming from his heart onto the canvas. By the time Wu Dayu was painting this work, he had already transcended the constraints of the Western still-life tradition, as well as those of the Chinese bird-and-flower paintings. Yet he held onto the traditional Chinese symbolism of flowers, as objects of great nobility and purity. In the upper left of the canvas, one catches a glimpse of a perched oriole, a delightful accent in this marvellous work.
Wu Dayu - Untitled

Wu Dayu - Untitled

Original 1980
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Gross Price
Lot number: 139
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Description:
Wu Dayu UNTITLED 1903-1988 Executed circa 1980s oil on canvas 53 by 39 cm; 20⅞ by 15⅜ in. Provenance Private Collection Beijing Council, Beijing, 3 June 2017, lot 2658 Acquired from the above sale by the present owner Exhibited Beijing, Lin & Lin Gallery, Beijing Grand Opening Exhibition, 21 April 2007 Beijing, Lin & Keng Gallery, Abstract China, 14 July – 31 August 2007 Beijing, Lin & Lin Gallery, Wu Da-yu Solo Exhibition, 17 November – 30 December 2007 Taipei, Tina Keng Gallery,Peerless Grace– Hangzhou National Academy of Fine Arts,6 - 28 March 2010 Literature Wu Da-Yu- The Great Master of Chinese New Wave Painting, Lin & Lin Gallery, Taipei, 1996, p. 143 Wu Da-yu, Lin & Lin Gallery, Taipei, 2006, pp. 82-3 Lin & Keng Gallery - New Oriental Beauty of Cultural Independence, Lin & Lin Gallery, Taipei, 2007, p. 77 Wu Da-yu, People\’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 2015, p. 114 Catalogue Note Here, I would like to raise my brush, I would like to make a mark here. I want to bare my heart and draw something, though I wouldn't dare call it a contribution or something like that. But I hope to do something sincere, to pour out my heart in front of you. I am already an old man, and I also feel like a child, Being poor but honest is a way to protect oneself. I have old grudges with the bean counters. I will not require you to appreciate me, nor am I afraid of being slapped. I have already waited seventy years, wishing only to share something for others to consider. My clean hands hang loosely, with nowhere safe to rest. I am certainly a son of the Creator, and I have no reason to forget the past and be indecisive. Wu Dayu Here, I Would Like to Raise My Brush Luminous and softly radiant, Untitled by Wu Dayu stirs gently with a poignant internal momentum. From the elegantly shifting swathes and washes of azure, turquoise, emerald and lemon yellow emerges a delicate rustling – the tender fitful movements of a fledgling baby peacock, whose crested head and elegantly curved neck only just discernible from the dynamic abstract composition. Executed at the mature heights of Wu Dayu\’s oeuvre, fluttering at the sublime liminal spaces between abstraction and semi-figuration, Untitled is a prime example of the great master\’s finest pieces that take inspiration from nature whilst striding towards a realm of abstract beauty. The complex composition exhibits rigorous maneuverings of tonal variation, density and texture, but nevertheless exudes a soothing sense of peace that derives an almost transcendent power from the sublime energies of nature. Infused with an incandescent spirit, Untitled is testament to the artist\’s own rich flourishing inner state of mind – one which prompted Former President of the Central Academy of Art, Jin Shangyi, to say in praise of Wu Dayu: \“In his later years, equipped with excellent training and self-cultivation, as well as his robust passion, Wu\’s creations exhibited remarkable naturalness. Although his circumstances were harsh, there was no bitterness in his works; they were uplifting and joyful, a testament to man\’s spiritual strength.\” In 1922, Wu Dayu left China for Paris, making him one of the earliest expats – along with Xu Beihong and Sanyu – to study abroad in France. During his time in Euroupe Wu Dayu studied and worked in the studios of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle and Georges Braque, the founder of Cubism. After returning to China, the artist and Lin Fengmian, among others, established the Hangzhou School of Fine Arts. Artists of such eminence as Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, and Wu Guanzhong were all students of Wu Dayu, who, at that time, was not only the brilliantly talented artist, but was also the head of the Western Painting department. His early works, tending towards Romanticism, were forever lost in the ravages of war and societal upheaval. Sublimated by wisdom accumulated over a lifetime and honed artistic philosophy, Wu Dayu\’s paintings after the 1970s possess the characteristics of Abstract Expressionism, combined with Fauvism and Cubism, both of which he studied extensively in his earlier years. This gave rise to a strong and distinct personal style, and Wu became part of the first wave of Chinese oil painters to stride towards Abstract Expressionism. His most distinctive abstract works are an extraction and expression of the beauty that lies in the composition and color of real scenery, taking inspiration from the vitality and exuberance of nature. The artist once said: \“Deferring to form and structure does not serve the purpose of grasping an object\’s image. Beauty exists in the space between the image itself and the image as it appears in the heart\”. As exemplified in Untitled, birds occupy a special symbolic importance in Wu Dayu\’s works akin to that of a self-portrait. Wu Dayu\’s original name was Wu Dai. In 1925, during his studies in France, he named himself Dayu (Yu: \“feather\”). After he returned to China, when Wu Dayu travelled to Nanjing with Xu Beihong, the two artists made puns about how their names were both bird-related: \“Hong\” means swan. Wu Dayu was also friends with Lin Fengmian, and the original spelling of Fengmian also included a bird name (Feng: \“phoenix\”). Consequently, whenever a bird appeared in Wu Dayu's artwork, it possessed a symbolic meaning, representing both the artist himself and his intimate friends. Representing purity and innocence, the birds that appear in Wu Dayu\’s paintings are always childlike and earnest, encapsulating the artist\’s enduring ideal of gentle humanity. Indeed, although Wu Dayu\’s fortunes declined after the 1940s and 1950s, leading him to suffer considerable hardship, the artist maintained the integrity of his character and held fast to his beliefs regarding both art and morality. His works from the 1980s bear no scars of the setbacks he suffered; rather, they seem evermore childlike and earnest. The present fledgling in Untitled looks upwards and outwards with an unadulterated attentive gaze, as if preparing to spread its wings and take off towards a bright and pure horizon. One of the principles of Abstract Expressionism is to express subjective ideas, with the substance of these ideas hinging upon the artist or the creator. What makes Wu Dayu worthy of great admiration is the beauty and goodness that radiates from his paintings, despite his personal hardships. He once profoundly remarked, \“Integrity is honed through the senses, and the senses are honed through integrity.\” These are words that were born from his life and his life\’s work. During the creation of the present work, Wu was not only transformed by the war, but was also a victim of the social movements in the 50s and 60s. Amid the cruelties dealt to him in life, the artist remained steadfast in his appreciation of beauty and his passion for creation. With noble integrity, Wu extracted the beauty of the world, and in turn used that beauty as nourishment for his integrity. Something as ordinary as a vase of flowers before a window could, under his brush, metamorphose into a resplendent, charming abstract painting. In this way, the artist used the \“liberation of color and form\” that he learned from the West to find – as is said in the East – \“a home for the heart and soul.\”
Wu Dayu - Untitled Ii-593

Wu Dayu - Untitled Ii-593

Original 1980
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Price:

Gross Price
Lot number: 740
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Wu Dayu UNTITLED II-593 1903-1988 executed circa 1980 crayon on paper 14.7 by 10.2 cm;5¾ by 4 in. Private Asian Collection Literature Wu Dayu: Works on paper II,Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 2010, p. 333 Wu Chongli, Shou Chongning, ed.,Works of Wu Dayu, People\’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 2015, p. 448
Wu Dayu - Untitled 28

Wu Dayu - Untitled 28

Original
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Gross Price
Lot number: 1029
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Description:
Wu Dayu 1903-1988 label of Pioneers of Modern Chinese Painting in Parisexhibition atde Sarthe Gallery affixed to the reverse oil on canvas 53 by 37.8 cm; 20⅞ by 14⅞ in. Provenance Important Private Asian Collection Exhibited Taipei, National Museum of History,Wu Dayu, 9 March - 8 April, 2001 Hong Kong, de Sarthe Gallery, Pioneers of Modern Chinese Panting in Paris, 14 May - 21 June 2014 Literature Wu Dayu, National Museum of History, Taipei, 2001, p.59 Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute,Wu Dayu,Shanghai Education Press, Shanghai, 2003, p. 85 Wu Dayu, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 2006, p. 111 Shanghai Artists Association,Works of Representatives of Shanghai Artists in the Century: Wu Dayu, Shanghai Shu Hua Publishing House, Shanghai, 2013, p. 79 Lao Zhu and Wu Ning, Pioneers of Modern Chinese Panting in Paris, de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, 2014, p. 51 Wu Da-Yu,People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, 2015, p. 75 The Beauty of Shixiang: The Origins of Chinese Abstract Oil Painting In the early twentieth century, young artists from around the world assembled in Paris, seeking inspiration from the birthplace of modern art. Many of these artists eventually became leaders of subsequent art movements, including Wu Dayu, Sanyu, and Pan Yuliang, the first generation of Chinese artists to return from studying in France. Wu Dayu modernized traditional Chinese philosophy and artistic concepts. He also contributed to the evolution of the xieyi (freehand) style of Chinese traditional painting, which he expressed in oil painting, making him the founding father of Chinese abstract oil painting. While Abstract Expressionism arose on the international stage in the 1940s and 1950s, Wu Dayu was already developing his theory of shixiang (Dynamic Expressionism) in the early 1940s. Shixiang became the crucial element of the development of Chinese abstract oil painting. Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, and Wu Guanzhong, the key members of the second generation of Chinese artists to study in France and attain international fame, were all also students of Wu Dayu at the National School of Art in Hangzhou. After arriving in Paris, they maintained contact with their mentor through the mail, and to these days, the letters sent by Wu Dayu to his students are a record of artistic inspiration. In terms of its timeliness and artistic influence, Wu Dayu's theory of shixiang, as a representation of Chinese Abstract Expression, stands on an equal footing with American Abstract Expressionism and French Abstraction Lyrique. "Art is expressing one's own heart. In the end, life is like a self-portrait that one paints as a gift to nature or to society, and that's all." -Wu Dayu, Teachings Wu Dayu's wide-ranging and profound theory of shixiang is based in philosophy, and it draws heavily on the Daoist notions of balance between the elements of Yin and Yang as well as emptiness and fullness. Western abstraction is based on conflicting dichotomies, but the two poles of Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy are not contrasting; rather, they are interdependent forces, an unceasing cycle of movement. Wu Dayu's paintings are a manifestation of these ideas. In his own words: "Changes in form and fluctuations in force reach the stage of dynamism. These changes include time and space. Dynamism follows changes in form, because forms contain not only structure but also dynamism. Time cannot stop, and art also cannot stop." Untitled 28 (Lot 1029) is a painting that bridges the abstract and the figurative. The entire tableau is rich in colour but not disorderly; the composition is diverse and full of movement. In terms of composition, Untitled 28 is abstract, yet it also contains elements of portraiture. The swaths of orange in the left and right parts of the canvas suggest two sides of a face, and on the left side, the shape of an eye socket is dimly visible. Incomplete forms resembling nose, mouth, and teeth are apparent in the centre of the tableau, and the blue lines in the upper left part of the canvas recall the artist's own combed-back hair. Untitled 28 may be a self-portrait or a portrait of someone else; the face in the painting is difficult to discern. Reproducing human figures was not Wu Dayu's goal. Instead, he sought to convey the structure of image, and the beauty of colour, creating a portrait-like painting based on expressions of his subjective feelings. The painting conveys the movement of images, lending the viewer an imaginative space of unlimited freedom. Subjected to this intricate and intense visual assault, the viewer is completely immersed in the artist's dynamic space.
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