Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guan Han-zi (官寒知) and Zhang Da-Qian (张大千)

Xiong Yong-zhi (熊永志) wrote an article about a local painter: Guan Han-zi (官寒知1896-1937:“书画之乡”不应忘记的人 ) in the “Neijing Daily” on March 1,2009. Guan and Zhang Da-Qian (张大千), along with his brother Zhang San-zi (张善子), went to Shanghai to study painting. While there, he communicated with some Japanese-Chinese painters. There he met Pu Bei-ying (蒲伯英), who was skilled at Chinese calligraphy. In this way, Pu’s Chinese “蒲字” and Guan’s painting “官画” received good reviews in Shanghai. Guan's paintings were considered among “Neijing’s Three Best (民国时期称为“官狗儿”的官寒知,他与“张老虎”(张善子画虎),“陈美人”(陈石渔画仕女)三人各具特色的绘画,被称为“内江三绝”).” Zhang San-zi (张善子) died in 1940. Although the Guans were talented at painting natural scenery with mountains, flowers, and birds, Guan Han-zi was best at painting dogs; they looked so real and so alive. A local collector had Guan Han-zi’s self portrait, plus a poem written by Han WenJia (韩文畦1885-1983). I am not sure if he was related to our Han family, although he had the same generation name as my father. His poem was the best description of Guan Han-zi who passed away in 1937 (Guan Zhong Pu's 众仆 translation in Chinese):
朗朗官君吾所与,玉润其衷霓霞举. (明朗、清亮的官君是我的好朋友,胸怀美玉举止高雅)
Long long gentleman Guan understands smooth jade rises above to morning sun.
造化在手随心挥,山灵水仙集毫楮. (随手就可以画出宇宙万物的玄奥与奥秘,所画山水有灵性,有仙风)
The soul of the mountains and goodness in water are all under his creative hands.
象形应物惟一真, 精诚所至凝于神. (既追求形似, 更致力于神似)
His lively paintings are filled with true spirit.
月石云泉出胸臆, 烟林鱼鸟交相亲. (画中的月石云泉都是官君胸中块垒, 画出的烟林鱼鸟无不让人感到可亲可爱). His thought flows like water among stones under the moon, among the fishes and birds in the forest.
绝诣早惊两川士, 妙誉方传天下人. (令人叫绝的造诣早就已经让四川人吃惊了, 全中国也正在称赞叫好官君的画). His talents shocked people in Sichuan, his painting passes onto the world.
谁能写子莫若子, 长松逸鹤宜天民. (谁能画好官君的像?没有哪个比得上官君自己画自己, 高大的松树,超凡脱俗的仙鹤正配得上我们的天之骄子). Who could paint like he painted himself. Graceful cranes and the strong pines, only makes the son of haven proud.
气敛思索发新趣, 点细研精万灵里. (一敛气思索就总会画出有趣的新作品来, 一笔一点都画出了灵性). His creations were always full of spirits, full of life.
何以赞之难为词, 颊上三毫今再遇. (怎么称赞官君的这幅画我很难找到中肯的词语, 三两笔就画出一个人脸部的神韵今天我算又一次见识了). How difficult to write praises, three thread hairs are left when we meet again.
Han Wenjia was also a friend of many other artists, such as Chen Gu Zhi 陈古枝, Liu Si Liang 刘师亮, and Fan Chong Jiang 范长江. In 1927, the March 31st Chongqing Incident resulted from a British warship on the Yangzi River bombing protesters in Nanjing, which resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 civilians on March 24th. Liu Xiang (刘湘) was trying to disperse the protesters, resulted in the deaths of 137 civilians and thousands wounded.
       Han Wenjia then became the chief editor for Border Politics Monthly (边政月刊). General Liu Wen-Hui (刘文辉), a cousin of Liu Xiang (刘湘), was the King of Southwest China. He asked Han WenJia to take charge of the army’s affairs and become governor of the county, but Han refused. Han became the head of state education and Liu Wen Hui was the governor of Xi Kong Province (西康省 where I went to college for four years). Liu Wen Hui’s fifth brother, Liu Wen Cai (刘文彩) was portrayed as the worst landlord and had a big family courtyard that I visited while I was in high school. Now, I understand why my grandmother was upset after I had told her what I saw because she did not believe what I saw. Many of her brothers were landlords, the farmers that they hired had their own families just like everyone else. It looked like the Guan, Liu, and Zhang families were all very close.
       Sadly, Guan Han-zi died at age forty one in January 1937. Our ancestors' paintings were likely painted by Guan Han-zi or his father. His second brother, Guan Su-Kong (官叔康), was a classmate of the famous educator Li Zhong Quan (李仲权). Guan Su-Kong graduated from Chengdu Foreign Language School and later taught English in Chongqing, Zizhong, Neijing, Zigong, and Zenshou (重庆, 资中, 内江, 自贡, 仁寿). He was the president of Neijing Teaching College (内江县师范) and the principal of Da Zhou High School (大洲中学校长). A local collector had Guan Su-Kong’s beautiful Chinese calligraphy of Chairman Mao’s Poems put on Zhang Da-Qian’s personalized painting paper (with his name and his flower grass marking the corners). The Guan and Zhang Da-Qian families were very close. I am not sure if Zhang Da-Qian was a descendant or related to the Zhang family who married our first generation’s grandfather, Yen Huei, back in 1724.

 Zhang San-zi's Flying Tiger (张善子的飞虎图), a gift for Claire Lee Chennault
The Tigers' shark-faced fighters are among the most recognizable of any combat aircraft of World War II. They resulted in tactical victories when the US news was little more than stories of defeat at the hands of the Japanese forces.

Guan's self portrait (官寒知自画像) and Han WenJia (韩文畦)'s poem.
The above note on the top of Guan's self portrait (官寒知自画像)


     Zhang Da-Qian (张大千) was in Beijing right after Japan surrendered at the end of World War II.  He planned to buy a King's Courtyard (a small city) with his 500 liang gold. Instead, he bought "Night Revels of Han Xizai 韩熙载夜宴图" by Gu Hongzhong (顾闳中937–975).  Emperor Li Yu sent Gu to spy on Han Xizai's private life. Li Yu wanted to know why Han refused his offer to make him the chancellor. Han Xizai was also always late or missing early-morning meetings with the emperor. It was Han Xizai's (韩熙载) way of protesting emperor Li's government partying every night.
First half section of the Night Revels of Han Xizai, 12th century remake, view from right to left
Second half section of the Night Revels of Han Xizai, 12th century remake
Night Revels of Han Xizai
《国画大师 张大千》