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Ravenel announces Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions on 26 May at Hong Kong and 2 June at Taipei
ZHOU Chunya, Sister Flower. Oil on canvas, 254 x 360 cm. Hong Kong auction item.
Est: HK$ 8 – 12 million.

HONG KONG.- Ravenel’s Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions 2013 will be held at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong (Grand Ballroom) on 26 May, and at Taipei Fubon National Conference Center on 2 Jun. The two auctions will present more than 190 finest works, totaling approximately HK$ 124 million/ NT$ 480 million*. Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Auction in Taipei will continue to feature a profusion of crucial works from China, Japan and Korea. Apart from that is a special sale devoted to Shiy De-jinn’s 26 outstanding works, showcasing 23 masterpieces by the artists, as well as 3 oeuvres from Shiy’s own collection or recommendation. Also appearing in the sale are masterpieces by most anticipated names such as Zao Wou-ki, Sanyu, Cai Guo-Qiang, Zhou Chunya, Yoshitomo Nara, Takashi Murakami and so on.

Flora Fu, the President of Ravenel’s Art Department, remarked: “We are most pleased to have Mr. L, the confidant of Taiwanese art master Shiy De-jinn, consign 26 significant works by and recommended by the artist. A keepsake of their friendship, the collection has never made appearance elsewhere in the art auction scene. The most meaningful and precious piece belongs to a work named Self-Portrait, which was the very gift presented to Mr. L by the artist himself in his last night in the world. Both auctions in Taipei and Hong Kong also total 10 masterpieces by Chu Teh-chun, spanning from his expressive calligraphic lines from 1960s, the snow scenes from 1980s, to the condensed color period from early 2000s. Such a remarkable series is set to be an unmissable record of Chu’s artistic development through the ages.”

Taipei Auction:
“Special Auction of Works by Shiy De-jinn From His Close Friend's Collection of 30 Years”

Shiy De-jinn, who studied under Lin Fengmian, is recognized as one of the most eminent artists in the history of Taiwan’s fine arts. He excelled at portraits and liked to describe himself as “the best portrait painter in Taiwan.” In 1962, Shiy went abroad with Liao Chi-chun, another outstanding Taiwan painter, to sample the museums and galleries of Europe and North America, and experience firsthand the latest movements and developments in modern art. Eventually, Shiy settled down in Paris for several years, working and holding exhibitions, before returning to Taiwan in 1966.

The knowledge and experience gained from travels in 15 countries helped to establish his status as one of Taiwan’s most renowned artists, and Shiy, who had no problems moving in elevated spheres, soon became something of a celebrity with connections not just in art circles, but also among diplomats and intellectuals, counting among his friends many painters and writers. Back then, L was still a university student in Taipei, a promising young man destined for a career as a scholar and educator, who somehow became acquainted with the famous painter Shiy De-jinn. Before long, a close and lasting friendship developed between them, bolstered by their shared interest in art and culture. In 1967, Shiy made two portraits of L, one a drawing and the other an oil painting, tokens of the strong bond between them.

In the more than ten years that followed, Shiy would frequently go back to Taichung to sketch from life, and L accompanied him on these trips whenever possible. With the artist as a mentor, L’s eyes were opened to a whole new world of artistic enjoyment and appreciation. Shiy would often spend Chinese New Year with L’s family, and was treated like a member of the household on such occasion. After he fell ill, Shiy began to open up even more, talking of things he would rarely mention before. Coming from a well-known literati family in central Taiwan, L had always had a passion for the creative arts, and so he gradually became one of Shiy’s main patrons and a collector of his paintings and calligraphy. Over the decade and a half of his friendship with the painter, he built up an extensive collection of the artist’s work, including some monumental watercolors, ink and color paintings and calligraphic pieces that L had sponsored and bought. Also found in this collection are works by Lin Fengmian and Guan Liang, which L had asked Shiy to purchase on his behalf.

This year, he would have been 90 years old, and his friends are still eager to promote his oeuvre to other connoisseurs of fine art. L has been living abroad for many years, and in his fairly carefree old age he has decided to part with some of his most prized possessions, and give other collectors an opportunity to obtain works by Shiy, thus allowing the great painter’s creative light to keep on burning brightly.

SHIY De-jinn, Self-Portrait 1951 oil on canvas mounted onto board 51.5 x 43cm
Taipei auction item Est: NT$ 4.5 – 7.5 million

To date, only four oil paintings are known as his self-portraits. One was made when he taught at Chiayi High School at the age of 28 (1951), two were painted when he turned 40 (1963), and another was accomplished when he was about 50 (1972). The current lot is a rare example of the earliest piece of Shiy's oil self-portraits oeuvre.

Shiy was considered by and large as one of the most important modern artists in Taiwan. He was also homosexual. His close friends knew of his sexual orientation; however, his desire had to be repressed in a conservative era. The fact that his love could not be accepted afflicted him bitterly. Shiy left his hometown in 1948. On the one hand he wanted to escape the marriage arranged by the elders at home, and on the other, he was also anxious to experience the art xanadu in the southern tropical island as Gauguin had in Tahiti. Traveling around Taiwan and seeing beautiful tropical landscapes amazed Shiy.

In his 1951 “Self-Portrait”, which depicts the self-indulgent and passionate state of mind of the artist, he wears a long black shirt and possesses a handsome and confident look. It is a 3/4 full-face shot in which the artist is watching himself in the mirror and the audience at the same time. The enchanting expression in his eyes is Shiy’s self-projection of his emotion and soul. Influenced by Picasso’s Blue Period, the picture as a whole reveals a sentimental, mysterious ambiance. He coated the canvas in a thick impasto like Cézanne, which enables his brush strokes to come off as natural and sincere.

This “Self-Portrait”, which records his youth at the age of 28, remained in his possession for 30 years, up until the last few days of his life. It is, therefore, possible to imagine how much he valued it. Before he passed away, Shiy asked his housekeeper to send the oil self-portrait to his room. With a trembling hand, he wrote: “This Self-portrait in oil is for my best friend, ...Shiy De-jinn's last words on August 2, 1981.” The name appearing on the note belonging to one of Shiy's closest friends during his lifetime is now the owner of this painting. Treasuring this “Self-Portrait” for more than thirty years, this man has shown such a profound friendship he had shared with the artist. Now appearing for the first time in art auction, this painting is set to be an unmissible masterpiece.

SHIY De-jinn Autumn 1979 Ink and color on paper 69 x 136cm Taipei auction item
Est: NT$ 1.3 – 2.2 million

In the fall of 1979, Shiy De-jiin created his ink painting, “Autumn”, on a trip to Qingshui and Shalu of Central Taiwan with a good friend. This piece combines Shiy De-jiin’s unique modern techniques with the unique characteristics of watercolor paintings creating a beautiful work, rich in expression and color. The mountains afar are washed in wet ink, revealing a deep sense of artistic conception. At the foot of the mountain stands Shiy’s favorite historic house, showing a quiet and contented rural landscape. The foreground is a stretch of an autumn forest. The orderly trees, the stones and the water are the garnish of this poetic and gorgeous modern landscape painting.

Hong Kong Auction – Modern and Contemporary Art
ZHOU Chunya Sister Flower 2010 oil on canvas 254 x 360 cm Hong Kong auction item
Est: HK$ 8 – 12 million

“Sister Flower” was first shown at the “1971 – 2010 Forty Years Retrospective Review of Zhou Chunya” exhibition in 2010, receiving widespread plaudits. In an interview, Zhou described the work: “I have painted landscapes, animals, and rocks, but I had never painted human figures in this way. This painting was an experiment, a kind of ‘lead-in.’ I have also never painted a picture this big before. I wanted to try to overcome the limitations I had placed on myself in my past work, which was itself a new approach.”

The painting’s Chinese name (“Elder Qiao and Younger Qiao”) derives from the “Two Qiaos of Jiangdong,” sisters born during the Three Kingdoms Era who were famous for their beauty, and who became a focus of competition among the heroes of that time. The “Records of the Three Kingdoms” does not give a detailed description of their physical appearance, nevertheless, the “Two Qiaos” have remained a popular subject for literary and artistic works down through the ages. As portrayed by Zhou Chunya, the “Two Qiaos” wear fashionable modern clothes, smiling while appearing slightly bashful, standing amidst the peach trees. Set against the background of the peach blossom, they appear innocent and happy. The abstract red figures in coital ecstasy from the “Peach Blossoms with Red Man” series have been transformed into these nubile, yellow-skinned women. The beautiful peach blossoms in the background are unusually large; the slim-bodied girls appear to be floating in the peach grove, adding a touch of mystery to the painting.

ZAO Wou-ki 28.4.75 1975 oil on canvas 116 x 89 cm Hong Kong auction item Est: HK$ 6 – 12 million
After the passing away of his beloved wife May in 1972, he took his first trip back to China, where he visited his mother and learned of her sufferings and the death of his father from persecution during the Cultural Revolution. Upon returning to Paris, Zao found himself unable to pick up his paintbrush and spent his days wallowing in drink, kept away from his canvas by a confusion of moods and emotions. As a way of distracting himself from his gloom, one day, he took out the rice paper, brush and ink he had brought back from China and started painting mindlessly. With this act, his childhood experience gradually reemerged.

Zao’s previous works from the 1960s to early 1970s were marked by strokes of black, brown and other cool tones, trembling lines, majestic power and rhythmic movement. Since the mid-1970s, his oil paintings became brighter and more resplendent in color, as well as wider in size. The addition of water-ink style staining, the pursuit of harmony with greater focus on space and light, and hints of idyllic calm all signaled a new phase in his artistic journey.

Orange-yellow and gold formed Zao’s main palette during the 1970s, the earthy, sunny colors a reflection of his search for warmth and tranquility, guiding him out of his grief. The use of orange-yellow as the main tone could be seen first in the 1972 work created in memory of his wife, “En Mémoire de May.” Considered the most important piece of Zao’s 1970s oeuvre, it is housed in The Centre Pompidou in Paris. This painting, “28.4.75,” is similar to “En Mémoire de May” from three years earlier in the choice of color and staining, though an oblong form is adopted.

In “28.4.75,” the large spread of orange-yellow in the background is like Mother Nature, nurturing all life; the moist haze meanders like a river, washing away all worldly cares; the soft, harmonious contrast between the ethereal and the corporeal recalls the evening sunlight that dyes the sky red, its gracefulness captivating the wanderer, making him linger. In the spring of 1975, Zao rushed back to China to see his dying mother, and later finished this piece named after its date of completion. By then, Zao was already in his fifties, the age when one should understand the ways of the world. Having experienced life’s many struggles, he desired nothing more than spiritual peace – the corners may have hidden darkness and pain, but they could be contained by infinite tenderness and softened into a poetic space.

Since its debut at Galerie Kutter in Luxemburg in the mid-1970s, the oil piece “28.4.75” has remained treasured in that country for over three decades. It was twice included in Zao Wou-Ki, the complete collection of Zao’s oil paintings edited by the art critic Jean Leymarie, in 1978 and 1986, as a classic representation of 1970s art.

CHU Teh-chun Nature hivernale 1987 oil on canvas 130 x 97 cm Hong Kong auction item. Est: HK$ 9 – 12 million
On a flight to Geneva in 1985, Chu was deeply impressed by the sight of the Alps: the snow-covered mountain peaks, the hovering clouds and milky mists, the sheer whiteness of the entire landscape. The artist’s representative snowscape oil paintings were all created in 1987, including “La forêt blanche”, “Temps d'hiver” and “Présence hivernale”. It was one of Chu's most prolific years during which he produced many almost exclusively large format paintings. This lot, “Nature hivernale”, is one of his few snowscape paintings in the upright format. It has some of the graceful elegance of Song paintings, unlike the majority of pieces in the Snow Scenes Series, which are in a horizontal format and have a much starker and more self-assertive quality.

“Nature hivernale”'s rather understated, refined quality is very reminiscent of the ethereal imagery found in many Song literati paintings. For this piece, Chu employed an impromptu approach, with his brush following wherever inspiration might lead it. The dark blue lines and patterns, executed in unrestrained, “flying” brushstrokes, and the sprinkles of white snowflakes dabbed across the composition, are all typical for Chu's trademark style, natural and smooth “like moving clouds and flowing water”. Meanwhile, the picture breathes a freedom of spirit through which we may well discern the atmosphere of winter in Europe. Yet this is also where Chu adds his own ingenious touch, for he subtly brightens the often dark and harsh mood of a lonely winter landscape in northern regions with small dabs of yellow and red, thus adding a more vigorous flair to the predominantly white and blue palette. Tang poet Cen Shen wrote, “It is as if suddenly one night a spring wind would rise, and scatter the blossoms from thousands and thousands of pear trees”, using a springtime image as a metaphor for the beauty of the earth covered under a thick layer of snow. In “Nature hivernale”, Chu does something very similar when he employs unique shades of color and gently undulating lines to create a litheness and rhythmic harmony that make the observer acutely aware of the stunning beauty that is a winter landscape.

Sanyu White Pekinese 1931 oil on canvas 38 x 46cm Hong Kong auction item. Est: HK$ 5.5 – 7.5 million.-
Over his career as an oil painter (from 1929 to 1966), Sanyu’s preferred motifs were female nudes, still lives, flowers, animals, and the occasional landscape. Around the 1930s, pastel shades of pink and white, combined with some black, dominated his compositions, which tended to be structurally succinct and straightforward. The colors were applied with an astonishing degree of restraint: very soft hues that are sometimes faint to the point of being hardly visible. Thanks to financial support from various sources, Sanyu could afford to use expensive canvas for his oil paintings that are brimming with Fauvist passion and Expressionist tension and energy, at times taken to the point of Surrealist spontaneity. He excelled at employing Western media, colors and subjects to give expression to an understated aestheticism and lyrical elegance that owe a lot to the basic tenets of traditional Chinese visual arts. This strong Eastern flavor was one of the reasons why Sanyu was able to establish himself as a truly original painter on the French art scene, and to repeatedly have his works displayed at various salon exhibitions.

Sanyu had a passion for animals and often visited zoos with friends. He first started painting with oils in 1929, and in addition to his famous nudes and plants, he also painted leopards, deer, horses, cats, and dogs. One example is “White Pekinese,” created in the 1930s. It is one of his earlier oil paintings, with white, black and pink colors, giving it a seemingly conservative and reserved tone. Sanyu was known for his unique style: simple composition, a contour without lines, and a lazy body sketched with simple pink and white. In this painting, the tone seemingly expresses the gentle temperament of the dog. The ears and the tail tinted with pink under the white background shows how simple and powerful the strokes are. Compared with Xu Beihong’s sketches from around the same period, filled with jumping animals (such as horses and lions), Sanyu’s animals appear to be subjective and poetic, enduring and timeless.

LUO Zhongli Blowing Series 2006 oil on canvas 160 x 200 cm Hong Kong auction item
Est: HK$ 5.5 – 7.5 million

Luo Zhongli, while recalling the original intent of his artistic creation, expressed a wish to speak for honest and ignored farmers because they are always the ones who get the short shrift. It is due to his profound personal experience and strong sense of mission that his works are filled with powerful sentiment.

Narrative elements were important in the works created in the 1980s. They left behind the conventional restrictions of subject and form in order to lead viewers’ gazes on the trivial but real daily lives of farmers. Gleaning, cultivating, making baskets, falling in love, taking a bath, wiping away sweat, and blowing dregs, these ordinary pieces of life all became the main threads for Luo’s creations.

“Blowing Series” is one of the artist’s favorite subjects. His 2006 painting “Blowing Series” demonstrates the artist’s profound achievement after years of artistic exploration. The theme is about a loving couple depicted in his earlier pieces, but the background is now a black canvas. Lines replace detailed strokes to sketch exaggerated and twisted human images. Luo employed folk art techniques by boldly using saturated colors in between, such as blue, yellow, red, and green, which shows a strong contrast to the black background. The density between the curved and straight lines provides a smooth rhythm to the picture. This new attempt transcends the limit of the narrative language in painting, turning itself into a deep and literary illustration.

Other highlights from Taipei Auction
CAI Guo-Qiang Dragon Cypress 2009 Gunpowder and ink on paper 306 x 402.5cm
Taipei auction item Est: NT$ 24– 36 million

In “Dragon Cypress” Cai depicts a Dragon Cypress, which embodies the emotions, energies and life forces of his two belief systems. The Cypress is a symbol of longevity and abundance, its Chinese pronunciation “bai” being a homonym for the word “one hundred”. A constant recurring motif in Chinese paintings, poetry and literature, the evergreen qualities of the Cypress came to represent long-life and endurance, even in the depths of winter’s hardships, the cypress stands tall and proud and full of life. Because of this it is perhaps the most revered of all Chinese plants and has a special place in Chinese philosophical thinking.

In “Dragon Cypress” Cai has captured the full majestic power and meaning of this venerated tree. He has masterfully captured its strength, endurance, fortitude and vigor in the face of all adversity. Using gunpowder as his medium, the Cypress radiates positive and joyful energy imbued with a calmness and tranquility so much admired in traditional Chinese Confucian thought. This quiet calmness belies the powerful and destructive medium used to create it, gunpowder. Created in 2009, “Dragon Cypress” embodies the maturing qualities of calmness and tranquility that Cai seems to have experienced after his recent great successes. A profound and majestic work incorporating the great dualities, which he has become renowned for expressing, it is a superb representative work of this great artist.

ZHOU Chunya Stone Series 1993 oil on canvas 162 x 130cm Taipei auction item. Est: NT$ 20 – 38 million
Studying abroad in Germany, Zhou became mesmerized by both German Expressionism and the Chinese traditional literati paintings. The artist’s Stone series specifically addresses the convergence of Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions, utilizing a combination of elements to create a more universal composite.

“Stone Series” presents an arresting example of this series as a whole. Standing starkly against a commanding background of opulent shades of blue, the unusually hued stone rises upward in a pitted, textural column on the right side of the composition. With special attention to the surface and details of each carved and hollowed cavity, Zhou has rendered the static stone with the character and animus of a living organism. Contrasting with the washes of blue along the background, this stone arrests attention, and radiates a sense of deeper visceral emotion. A shadowed tree stands firmly in the foreground, it’s branches curled and twisted upwards with a sinister reach. The gnarled bark reflects the porous surface of the stone, the two elements converging in a surreal expression of landscape structure.

CHU Teh-Chun Voiler VI 1986 oil on canvas 50 x 65.5cm Taipei auction item. Est: NT$ 6 – 8 million
Chu's inspiration for this remarkable work dawned on him when he was overlooking the mountain range from inside a plane, believing that the wonderful shapes he saw before him resemble the mountains and stones of ancient Chinese gardens. The work’s fluttering snowflakes and flying contours seem to dance to the rhythm of Chu’s paintbrush. Chu explored his feelings to discover and create a pure land, leading the viewers to walk deep into the realm he created. Colors flow and diverge with yellow, red, and orange dotted on a winter green and blue, which free the shapes hidden beneath them.

Chu’s abstract landscape combines the pulsation of the air. The air breathes from the broad horizon and the deep abyss, constructing a dreamy space where people may explore the depths of their minds. Although he preferred to use oil paint as his medium, he was also capable of presenting a sort of gradation and transparency that is only seen in Chinese ink paintings. Between the fantastic and the real, at the origin of creation, light expands toward the infinity. Chu’s paintings seem to come from a foreign realm, but in manner of which viewers can fully comprehend. They narrate a story of an artist encountering nature. In his paintings, Chu uses pure lyrical abstraction to represent beautiful and natural scenery that reignites the emotions of dim memories, celebrating them as something eternal.

CHU Teh-chun Composition 1979 oil on canvas 65.5 x 50cm Taipei auction item Est: NT$ 5 – 7 million
Chu has said he gains his inspiration from nature. He uses lyrical abstract art to sing his praises to nature, a spontaneous overflow of emotion flooding from his heart, his mind, and his body. Like most ancient Chinese painters, after drinking in the sights, Chu always goes back to his studio and tries to recapture the moment when painter and nature meet. His representation tends to arouse stronger emotions than realistic depiction. In “Composition”, the depth of light, the strong and powerful gold, brown and dark red, and the green as a finishing touch, all seem to be a tribute to Rembrandt. “Composition” is filled with Chu’s powerful and dynamic force. He creates a space between the virtual and the real through color and light, balancing visual rhythm with his painted lines. Incredible vitality is hidden in the calm structure of his works. We seem to stand side by side with Chu, taking in this marvelous and magnificent sight and feeling the flow of the air. This is his concept of nature, derived after thorough contemplation and composition. What he has shaped are not just mountains and rivers, but a vast spiritual light as mighty as the universe.

Yoshitomo NARA O.T 1993 acrylic on cotton cloth 100 x 85cm Taipei auction item Est: NT$ 8 – 10 million
Japanese contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara continuously reproduces the deep loneliness that accompanied him while growing up. The children depicted by Nara are all distinct characters portrayed in fairytale hues. On their endearing faces are expressions of derision or bewilderment, while the large eyes reflect loneliness and melancholy and sometimes even a fierce rebellion. He discovered that he could achieve what he wanted through the most straightforward and basic forms of communication, and so he gradually simplified the backgrounds in his works, using simple colors to achieve layers of space so that the main subject can clearly speak on his behalf. This 1993 piece “O.T” is a perfect representation of his artistic trademark. The little girl in the depiction has the familiar expression found in Japanese animé, the disdainful yet quizzical “what?” The cynicism and innocence unflinchingly portrayed by their small bodies show the emotions we all have had at one point or another.


*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium



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