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    Sale 2604

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 270


    Price Realised  


    (CHEN YINPI, 1913-1995)
    God Creates Many Nations
    oil on masonite
    39 x 49 cm. (15 3/8 x 19 1/4 in.)
    Painted in 1950s-1960s

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    George Chann imigrated to the US with his father as a child, beginning his artistic career there in the 1940s. He received formal western training in art at the Otis Art Institute of the Los Angeles County Museum, where he enrolled in 1943, and produced early figure studies and landscapes in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles, often with social-realist subjects. By the 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was reaching its zenith in the US under the leadership of such figures as Jackson Pollack, Willem deKooning, and Mark Tobey. Chann too was delving into that style and its aesthetic and developing Chinese style of abstraction all his own.

    Chann's variation on abstract style in his late period display subtle interplays of colour and complex, rhythmic compositions. Their brush-writing, characters, and symbols have been further refined and have evolved into even freer and more abstract lines and structures. The thick textures of his paintings, their sand and grit, paper and paste and laminated layers seem to form the same rippling lines that appear on ancient bronze vessels and the textural feel of the irregular indentations in the verdigris of their surfaces. He produced surfaces that almost seem to have been cast in relief: their fine white lines etch out characters and symbols on rich beds of colour, with color blocks and lines that overlap in complex patterns, creating rich and rhythmic harmony from visual elements that evoke deep historical meanings and associations.

    Splurged in deep hues, Abundant Spirit (Lot 276) and Light of the Universe (Lot 275) are matured paradigms of his previous work, Imagination (Lot 274); a painterly carving of an ancient script, which Chann feverishly exploits the canvas with. With his deep fixation in conducting a sense of calligraphy meditation, this oeuvre is newly interpreted into an utterly modern language, where the ancient scripts are transformed into a painting that impersonates the liberated freedom of Abstract Expressionism. Further explored in the two later works of Abundant Spirit and Light of Universe, Chann injects more contemplative colour scope, which together in harmony with his title endorse his sincere spirituality. Patched intricately with innumerable fine brush strokes, the texture of the paint summons a tactile depth to the planes. The perceptive variation and spatial dimension expands, as each layer of paint is realized to be of high necessity in providing his philosophical probity. Honing the viewer's attention into the whimsical realm of his paintings; the artist tunes a juxtaposed sensation of relaxed friction in his free but compact composition of lines, perhaps to indicate the bodily restriction of an action of painting as a blockage in delivering his much emotional dynamism.

    However, his heavy concepts are further maneuvered in aesthetic lightness in his painting series of religious episodes. Visually depicting excerpts from the bible, he recites the heavy weight of its connotations in light, playful joy of bright colors together with disruptive brilliance of his brushstrokes. The intense gestural brush strokes is aesthetically apt in exhibiting the utmost spirituality of his chosen biblical associations, where the religious narratives are told in Chann's ardent motion, confirming the integrity of his paintings with his direct yet expressive transfer of his inner sentiment and faith. The pulsating colors are utilized as a premeditated tool to further the narrative enticement in numinous lyricism. The terse dynamics of the brushstrokes resonate the vibrancy of the colour in tandem with the tactile texture of the paint to draw out a sense of an unfolding tale, that appear so wet and thick, palpable in perceptive sensory that it triggers an illusion of a scene that is occurring in front of the viewer's very eyes. Moreover, this particular impression is amplified with these four concurrent oeuvres (Lot 270), (Lot 271), (Lot 272) and (Lot 273) in visual alignment that projects a sequential film of the bible passages.

    Variation is a crucial characteristic in Chann's artistic decision as it is can be constantly found within the wide spectrum of primary colors, multi-layers of brusque brushstrokes, complex spatial composition and rhythmic lighting. The freedom of lines and colours are reflective of his profound receptivity towards his personal imagination in overall assuring the audience of his self-belief; possibly in return, this self awareness is what grants him his remarkable control in his medley of colours, abstraction, figuration and most definitely in his ability to mediate the classical elegance with modernity to create an oeuvre that is tastefully unique as his own.


    Donation to a Southern California Church by the Artist
    Private Collection, USA