Sotheby’s Hong Kong to host 20th Century Chinese Art Spring Sale 2012 on 2 April

Sotheby’s Hong Kong will hold its 20th Century Chinese Art Spring Sale 2012 on 2 April, offering more than 140 lots at a total estimate of HK$160 million / US$20.5 million.

Zao Wou-Ki’s . 25.06.86 (Est. HK$18-28 million / US$2.3-3.6 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

Zao Wou-Ki’s . 25.06.86 (Est. HK$18-28 million / US$2.3-3.6 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

This sale includes outstanding modernist, abstract, realist, and photographic works, a veritable epitome of the development of Chinese art in the last century. The sale also highlights special sessions devoted to Realism and Photography, placing in context two unique areas in the development of 20th Century Chinese Art. Among the realist paintings are masterpieces by Chen Yifei, Wang Yidong, Luo Zhongli and Li Guijun. Photographic works by Lang Jingshan leads the Photography session, which comprises early photographic art from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The key highlights of this Spring Sale, however, are rarely seen works by the pioneers of Chinese modernism, among them Zao Wou-Ki, Lin Fengmian, Wu Dayu, Chu Teh-Chun and Wu Guanzhong. Without a doubt, these stunning paintings will stir intense bidding in the upcoming sales.

This sale offers one of Zao Wou-Ki’s most outstanding paintings spanning his career from the 1950s to the 1990s – his 1986 work 25.06.86 (Est. HK$18-28 million/ US$2.3-3.6 million). Acquired by a European private collection decades ago, 25.06.86 makes its debut on the market in this sale. Created at the height of Zao’s international fame and artistic prowess in the 1980s, the painting captured the artist’s ease in following his own instincts in his sensitive, determined and confident application of colours and brushstrokes. This vertically-aligned tripartite composition is exceptional: it is inspired by traditional Chinese landscape painting, executed as early as 1986. Dark purples that seem to suspend in mid-air are placed side by side with deep azure, juxtaposed with vaporous, light grey hues resembling a waterfall. Hazy greys appear in contrast to cobalt blues and metallic browns, infiltrating and expanding in relation to each other, as if currents ebb and flow. The artist commanded his brush in varied weights and with great nuance, leading the viewers into an infinite space where imaginations spread their wings. The wondrous beauty of this canvas is akin to the imaginary landscape depicted in Chinese poet Tao Yuanming’s Peach Blossom Land. Guided by a light breeze, we accompany Zao Wou-Ki along the paths of the Peach Blossom Forest, reposing amidst that dewy horizon where mountains and rivers meet.

Sylvie Chen, Sotheby’s Head of 20th Century Chinese Art, said, “Acutely attuned to the pulse of art history, we build upon solid and deep professional expertise, devoting ourselves to organizing sales every season. Our tireless efforts have already gained recognition and enthusiastic support from international collectors, creating wave after wave of record sales, bringing forth the finest works of the 20th Century Chinese Art in a market that continues to soar. For our Spring Sale, we have assembled numerous exceptional and rarely seen works from Europe and America by major Chinese artists such as Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Wu Guanzhong, Chen Yifei and Wang Yidong. Among these masterworks from the 1980s are Zao’s 25.06.86 and Chen’s Lonely Girl, both works marked by impeccable provenance, secured from important European private collectors. In addition, we are organizing two special sessions within this sale: “Realism” and “Photography”, providing a more comprehensive picture of the category for collectors. This sale is surely not to be missed: it provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for collectors to acquire masterpieces.”

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