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At 90, master holds 1st solo exhibition

By Wang Jie  (Shanghai Daily)

09:06, April 28, 2012

PAINTER Zhang Gongque has never sought the limelight or pursued money and fame. He never held a solo exhibition in China. And he seldom sells a work of art, preferring to keep it at home.

Today, at the age of 90 and at the urging of former students, he is holding his first solo exhibition in China at the Shanghai Art Museum through May 4.

Sixty recent canvases are on display.

Zhang, a Shanghai native, was tutored by Wu Dayu and Lin Fengmian during his study at the National Art Academy in Hangzhou in the 1940s. The academy, known for teaching Western art concepts, nurtured Wu Guanzhong, Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-chun, all big names in the history of contemporary art.

Unlike many of his peers, Zhang is very low-key and low-profile and he doesn't hob-knob with other artists, critics or gallery owners. He sells very few works and doesn't push to sell.

"I enjoy a private rendezvous with art," he says. "I enjoy the sunlight while painting in my garden. Art is something to be savored and I prefer to isolate myself with the outside world."

Early in the 1940s, Zhang started to pursue an abstract style and created a painting titled "White Wrapped by Dark." But during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976), Zhang had to destroy many of his works to avoid physical attacks because of his bourgeois preferences.

He used a pair of scissors to cut "White Wrapped by Dark' into pieces but he kept the pieces, and in 1990 when he was invited to a joint exhibition in the United States, he retrieved the pieces and put them together to create a new work.

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