The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sotheby's announces Auction of Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art featuring more than 50 works
The sale is led by Zao Wou-Ki’s Sous bois dans la nuit, a rare piece from the artist’s 1950s Oracle Bone period (Est. RMB 16 – 24 Million / US$2.58 – 3.86 Million). Photo: Sotheby's.
BEIJING.- Following the success of Sotheby’s Beijing Art Week in 2013, Sotheby’s announces Sotheby’s Beijing Spring Sale and Selling Exhibition 2014, 30 May to 1 June, at the China World Summit Wing, Beijing. This three-day series will showcase the varying facets of modern and contemporary Chinese and Western arts to collectors and art lovers in China. Scheduled events include an auction of Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art; a selling exhibition of Masters on Paper – From Picasso to Sanyu; an exhibition from the private Hui Tong Collection of Chinese Realist Paintings; and a series of educational programmes featuring leading scholars from China and Sotheby’s specialists.

Kevin Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby’s Asia, said: “Following the success of Sotheby’s Beijing Art Week last December, we are excited to present Sotheby’s Beijing Spring Sale and Selling Exhibition 2014 to take place in late May during the vibrant auction season in Beijing’s art calendar. Thoughtfully curated, the three- day series combines auction and exhibitions and has been tailored to offer a world-class experience for collectors and art aficionados in China.

Modern and Contemporary Chinese art remains the theme of the auction, which features a selection of exceptional works catering to the taste of Chinese collectors. Sotheby’s meticulous sourcing and curatorial approach was enthusiastically received by our clients last year and this Spring’s offerings build on that achievement. As a multi- channel arts business, we continue to source Western art through our global network and offer it via specially curated selling exhibitions. This season we will bring to market prints and works on paper by some of the most important Western and Chinese artists of the 20th century in Masters on Paper – From Picasso to Sanyu. Collecting works on paper can be an ideal way to create an art collection, and this exhibition provides great opportunities to acquire exceptional artworks by world renowned Western artists.”

Wen Guihua, President of Sotheby’s (Beijing) Auction Co. Ltd., said: “Sotheby’s Beijing Art Week last autumn solidly demonstrated the company’s unrivalled global resources and world-class operational excellence, which encouraged an unprecedented participation by collectors and secured remarkable results. It was also a testament to the increasingly enthusiastic involvement of the China market in a more globalised platform.

This Spring, Sotheby’s continues to commit to our long-term strategy in promoting cultural exchange between East and West by offering properties of world-class standard. By sourcing through our international network, the Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art Auction will offer more than 50 exemplary works by celebrated artists from the respective periods. Presented in homage to the modern Chinese master Zao Wou-Ki is Sou bois dans la nuit, an iconic painting from the artist’s Oracle Bone Period, in which the record-setting masterpiece, Abstraction, was also created. Alongside the auction, we are also privileged to present the Hui Tong Collection of Chinese Realist Paintings exhibition. Twenty representative works from an important Asian private collection will be showcased, and the aesthetic breadth and depth of the collection offers a glimpse of the collector’s zealous passion for art. We look forward to welcoming collectors and art lovers to our series of exciting events, and we are deeply grateful for their recognition for Sotheby’s commitment to excellence.”

The Modern and Contemporary Chinese Arts Sale on 1 June will offer more than 50 outstanding works of exceptional quality, estimated in excess of RMB 85 million / US$13.7 million* in total. Highlights include iconic works by 20th Century Chinese masters Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, and Wang Yidong, most notably Zao Wou-Ki’s Sous bois dans la nuit, a masterpiece from his Oracle Bone Period. An impressive assemblage of works by renowned contemporary Chinese artists – among them Liu Xiaodong, Zhao Bandi, Zhou Chunya, Mao Yan, and Li Guijun – will complement the modern offerings. Contemporary ink paintings by celebrated artists Liu Dan, Xu Lei, Li Jin and Tian Liming will also be featured.

Modern Chinese Art Highlights
Zao Wou-Ki (1920 – 2013), Sous bois dans la nuit 1955, Oil on canvas, 91.8 x 72.9 cm Est. RMB 16 – 24 million / US$2.58 – 3.86 million

Sous bois dans la nuit is a classic representative from Zao Wou-Ki’s Oracle Bone Period, completed in 1955 at the peak of his artistic maturity. Upon the indigo canvas, a mysterious halo of light shines down from above, spreading softly with a moonlit vitality and igniting the serene, secluded forest in the night. Ancient Chinese language symbols constructed by dark lines seemingly metamorphose into spirits adventuring in the forest. The rich symbols infused in this work evoke an imaginary world within the painting; red shapes at the centre of the canvas suggest mysticism. Formerly in the collection of The Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Sous bois dans la nuit was later acquired by an important Asian private collection and has been kept in excellent condition over the past 60 years. Its reappearance at auction is set to attract great interest from connoisseurs and new collectors alike.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920 – 2013), 31.10.79 1979, Oil on canvas, 145.5 x 113.3 cm Est. RMB 9 – 12 million / US$1.45 – 1.93 million
In 31.10.79, a magnificent landscape emerges at the upper part of the canvas through Zao Wou-Ki’s application of soft colours. Using a broad brush, the artist applies black and grey paints to form mountainous rocks. The use of emerald green evokes a sense of springtime, while the intertwining use of orange and blue enhances the sense of space. Meticulous layers at the lower half of the painting create a waved effect; the work is reminiscent of Chinese literati landscape features and Eastern aesthetics expressed through the artist’s sophisticated abstract style. 31.10.79 is a blend of Zao’s nostalgia towards the beauty of his hometown and a peaceful mind. The artist rejoices in nature’s beauty with his use of natural colours and free brushstrokes.

Wang Yidong (b. 1955), A Married Woman in the Mountains 1995-96, Oil on canvas, 190 x 180 cm Est. RMB 8 – 12 million / US$1.29 – 1.93 million
In A Married Woman in the Mountains, Wang Yidong’s mature realist expertise is evidenced by composition and portrayal of the subject matter. The somewhat stiff subjects and the sophisticated treatment of the detailed creases in the bride and groom’s clothes reveal Wang’s proficiency with Western classical painting techniques. However, what lies within the work beyond technique are abstract philosophies of life, profound Chinese cultural elements, and national consciousness. Tirelessly absorbing and observing the aesthetic concepts of the Chinese nation, Wang has skilfully portrayed prosaic, unpretentious rural Chinese lives. Using stirring classical Western realist techniques, the artist merges quintessential features of both the East and West, successfully creating his own distinct and irreplaceable style.

Contemporary Chinese Art Highlights
Liu Xiaodong (b. 1963), Family Party 2009, Oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm Est. RMB 4.5 – 6.5 million / US$725,000 – 1.05 million

Appearing at auction for the first time, Liu Xiaodong’s Family Party from 2009 prompts the viewer to recall his Warm Bed No. 2 (2006), which depicts several female prostitutes in different postures, the disorderly scenery seemingly echoing their disorderly lives. Family Party, conversely, presents a warmer scene. Five young women are depicted with extremely relaxed postures, surrounded by warm color tones and soft toys. The atmosphere of the scene is akin to that of a joyous and harmonious family gathering. But, an ashtray in the foreground, the women’s revealing clothes, and their careless body language also point to something slightly less innocent. These women seem to be waiting for something, and in the scene’s warmth, there seems to be a dark ambiguity. Liu Xiaodong does not make any value judgment and leaves the viewer to interpret the painting. It is this very subtle balance between being present yet detached that reveals both human nature and the reality of life.

Zhao Bandi (b. 1966), Pink Kiss 1996, Oil on canvas, 174.7 x 80.5 cm Est. RMB 2 – 3 million / US$322,000 – 483,000
Zhao Bandi’s works from the early 1990s are primarily dominated by classical realist oil paintings; Pink Kiss from 1996 is his memorial to history as well as the final chapter of his ‘Classical Period’. In this work, Zhao portrays the moment of a kiss shared in Tiananmen Square by a young couple whose expressions display total immersion with the atmosphere. Yet the piece diverges from that of traditional oil painting in terms of visual perspective. The couple is placed at the very periphery of the viewer’s gaze, while the pink-hued Tiananmen Square and portrait of Mao at the background emerge as the real subjects of this work. The iron fence between the couple and Tiananmen Square is suggestive of their estrangement. While the imagery appears to be realist in style, what this work contains far transcends the classical realism objective of accurate portrayal – in this way, the essence of the avant-garde.

Zhou Chunya (b. 1955), Rock and Clouds 2003, Oil on canvas, 360 x 220 cm Est. RMB 5 – 9 million / US$805,000 – 1.45 million
Zhou Chunya integrated his two kinds of artistic experiences – of European Expressionism and traditional Chinese literati painting, to create the Mountain Rocks series. Executed in 2003, Rock and Clouds is a representative work from this renowned series. This work is experimental in its use of colour and texture: a light-brown rock's malachite-green facets remind viewers of ‘moss dots’ found in traditional Chinese landscape paintings, echoing a few bright-red highlights scattering on the canvas. The purposeful adoption of wash-heavy brushwork also adds a sense of mystery to the painting.

Sotheby’s will present in Beijing a special selling exhibition of graphic art and works on paper by some of the most important artists of the 20th century. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Sanyu are among the Modern Masters included in Masters on Paper – From Picasso to Sanyu, a carefully-curated assemblage on offer from 30 May to 1 June.

Prodigious printmakers and superb creators of works on paper, these celebrated figures of 20th century art relied on prints and drawings as outlets to employ different techniques to achieve images a brush could not produce. Works on paper including drawings and prints showcased in this selling exhibition express major artistic and thematic concepts, among them the artist and model, the female nude, abstraction, as well as colour and line. Conceived in ink and paint, these works on paper are imbued with as much emotion as works of other media, for they are frequently intimate, personal depictions by the artists, to whom they held great significance.

Sotheby’s exhibition of the Hui Tong Collection of Chinese Realist Paintings features 20 exemplary works selected from an important private collection based in Asia. Despite its low profile over the years, the collection is remarkable both in volume and quality, demonstrating strong and clear links between each piece especially in the area of Chinese Realist paintings – a category which enjoys a prominent position in contemporary Chinese art. The Hui Tong Collection features artworks by a group of highly accomplished Chinese Realist painters, among them Chen Yifei, Zhan Jianjun, Ai Xuan, Wang Yidong, Leng Jun, Luo Zhongli, Chen Yiming, Chen Yanning, and Li Guijun. Many of the works are highly representational of the artists’ highest achievements, having been created at the peak of their careers. These works reflect both academic and artistic excellence, making clear the classical aesthetic breadth and depth of the collection, which also includes rarely-seen masterpieces and representative early works.

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