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Sotheby's Hong Kong gallery presents Xu Jianguo: Metropolis Reimagined, a selling exhibition
Vista of Guangzhou – Scene along the Pearl River Coast, 2012. Ink on silk, 63 x 28 cm. Photo: Sotheby's.
HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery will present Xu Jianguo: Metropolis Reimagined – A Selling Exhibition from 17 - 30 June. Featuring more than 20 recent works created by Chinese artist Xu Jianguo between 2010 and 2014, Metropolis Reimagined portrays his vision and reimagination of three metropolises: Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Combining contemporary perspectives with classical format and aesthetics, Xu’s works are reminiscent of the Chinese court paintings of the Southern Song dynasty. This series of work deconstructs the boundaries between past and present, tradition and evolution, revising the classic as contemporary.

Angelika Li, Gallery Director, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, said: “We are happy to present Xu Jianguo : Metropolis Reimagined. Xu’s ink paintings are reminiscent of classical paintings from the Song dynasty, whether from the format, composition or medium employed. It is perhaps many ink painters’ aspiration and challenge to integrate modern architecture with traditional landscape in ink on silk. Xu has reconciled this in the most harmonious manner by weaving together the most traditional format and mediums with the lyrical movements and vibrant energies of the contemporary urban landscape. With special thanks to Professor Colin Fournier and composer Alain Chiu for their contributions to this exhibition, we hope that Metropolis Reimagined will inspire us to contemplate our human relationship with cities and nature.”

“How does one continue the legacy of Chinese culture, honouring its vast history and rich traditions whilst innovating towards the future? I hope my own simple creations will attract great new insights that contribute to this crucially important exploration. This is my modest wish in the current exhibition.

Using subjects of the common world, I wish to present a humanistic landscape of the modern metropolis. With my brush and ink, I humbly seek to devise modern applications based on traditional philosophies.” Xu Jianguo

Born in Shanghai in 1951, Xu Jianguo, or Da Diaozi (“Hue-Catcher”, his style name) studied Chinese painting and calligraphy with traditional scholar, Mr. Ye Zhihao (1913-1988) when he was young. The traditional Chinese style of education laid a solid foundation for his later artistic studies. Xu graduated from the Shanghai Theatre Academy during the 1970s and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bard College at the U.S. in 1987. Over the course of his career, Xu developed his own unique “urban landscape” painting techniques. Over the last 10 years, he dedicated himself into researching the paintings of the Five Dynasties and the Song Dynasty. He explored the profound concepts of humanism and harmony in these works and applied them to the contemporary urban world. Xu’s major solo exhibitions include Beyond Contemporary: The 50 Years’ Artistic Vision of Jian Guo Xu at the National Museum of China in October 2013.

Exhibition Highlights
Metropolis Reimagined 2014 Ink on silk Painting: 43.5 x 166 cm Preface: 41 x 96.5 cm

“This painting catches that magical moment in the early evening, so characteristic of the view from the Peak, when the air finally becomes cooler and when the urban landscape suddenly shifts from day to night. There are accents of colour as well as lights glowing, on the island side, likes fires in the bush. Metropolis Reimagined is less respectful of the actual topological relationships between buildings. Rather, it portrays the city as how we piece it together in a dream - a distorted memory trace. What the artist sees and shares with us is an intimate glimpse of his own internal world, an extraordinary amalgam of sensorial stimuli and abstract ideas, physics closely intertwined with metaphysics.” ---Colin Fournier

Evolution of Shanghai 2014 Ink and colour on silk 42 x 52 cm
“The architectural language of Shanghai is different from that of Hong Kong in that it introduces, at least in the Pudong area and parts of the Bund, the sphere as an archetypal form. In Evolution of Shanghai, the highly charged and powerful composition is foreshortened, stressing the dynamic interplay of mingling contrasting form. In addition to the representation of Shanghai’s complex formal vocabulary, Evolution of Shanghai depicts Shanghai’s older urban fabric in the foreground and shows the tension between the old and the new. It has tonal contrast than the previous view. The power of the piece is that the composition achieves a dramatic foreshortening of both time and space.” ---Colin Fournier

Moonlight Over Hong Kong 2014 Ink on Silk Diameter: 38 cm
“The Bank of China takes centre stage in Moonlight over Hong Kong while the HSBC building is displaced and relocated at its foot. The composition frames the urban landscape between the two sides of a mountain gorge. This painting draws a clear analogy between the sharp prismatic cross-bracing structure of the Bank of China and the more expressionistic triangulated trusses of the earlier HSBC building. It depicts the branch structure of the trees and vegetation in a way that makes it clear that these high tech buildings derive their essential structural principles from an observation of nature, while heightening the contrast between them, marking the evolutionary step from natural forms to human artefacts.”---Colin Fournier

Vista of Guangzhou – Scene along the Pearl River Coast 2012 Ink on silk 63 x 28 cm
“It is a generous, expansive view, albeit contained within a small fan, with vast expanses of water and sky, as well as drifting clouds, in the centre of the image. Within this generous natural realm, architecture begins to manifest itself, but it comes across as still in the making, still incomplete. To quote the artist’s own words: ‘Mountains and rivers exist by themselves, without any interest in worldly affairs’. Is this what he is showing, urban landscapes detached from worldly affairs? Many of the views are bird’s eye views, not the view of someone walking down the streets of the city. They are seen from a great distance and very seldom show any human presence. This is the remote view of the gods and of their angels.” ---Colin Fournier





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