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Paradise for Small Birds; 小鳥天堂; Xiaoniao tiantang

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Paradise for Small Birds; 小鳥天堂; Xiaoniao tiantang
  • Description

    This enormous wall scroll is one of four paintings done on this theme by Wu Guanzhong in 1989. A huge, stylized banyan tree on an island in Xinhui County, Guangdong province, provides a paradise for colourful birds of all varieties. There are no people or animals, just the birds enjoying their freedom. Painted in ink and colours on paper. Inscribed and signed.


  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1989
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 144 centimetres (image)
    • Width: 301 centimetres (image)
    • Height: 164.5 centimetres (mount)
    • Width: 344.5 centimetres (mount)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        bottom right
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Translation

        People call this the paradise for small birds
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Comment

        Wu Guanzhong 1989
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Comment

        seals: 'tu' in relief (朱文) and Wu Guangzhong yin in intaglio(白文)
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        top left
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Bashi niandai
      • Inscription Translation

        the 80s
      • Inscription Comment

        seal in relief
  • Curator's comments

    Confined for a time during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), Wu Guanzhong has, since the 1980s, celebrated his own free spirit in his wide-ranging works. He is a highly renowned artist and his work combines Western and Chinese elements as seen here, with references to Abstract Expressionism.Wu Guanzhong was the first living Chinese artist to be granted a solo exhibition at the British Museum. Paradise for Small Birds was shown in London in 1992 and given by the artist to the museum for its permanent collection. Painted in 1989, in the year of the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, it features a huge banyan tree on an island in Xinhui County, Guangdong province, providing a paradise-like environment for colourful birds. Although Paradise for Small Birds with its interweaving lines and flying dots may be reminiscent of drip paintings by Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Wu Guanzhong never turned to pure abstract expressionism or lost the ultimate source of his inspiration, which was nature and his native country.


  • Bibliography

    • Farrer 1992 Cat.19 bibliographic details
    • von Spee 2012 Cat.26 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2008 10 Jan-5 Aug, BM Galleries 91, Fascination With Nature

    May-Sept 2012, BM Galleries 91, 'Modern Chinese Ink Painting'

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.Ptg.Add.543 (Chinese Painting Additional Number)

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