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    Sale 2605

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 486


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1968)
    signed and dated 'Dachun; 2002' in Chinese (upper centre)
    mixed media on canvas
    110 x 110 cm. (43 1/4 x 43 1/4 in.)
    Painted in 2002

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    Ji Dachun's paintings give its spectator a strong sense of the eccentric, eerie and tension. That kind of eccentric impression deprives partly from his humorous juxtaposition of contrast and unexpected elements and partly from his unique artistic style. He establishes his fame in manipulating the widely known scenes, mainstream interpretations and the banal everyday life aspects, yet reinterpreting them from an aberrant perspective or in a banter manner, mingling them with unexpected elements, like revolutionists fighting like a flock of kids or the widely adored Chinese singer presenting her nude body as well as a smile as innocent as baby. Such a representation imbues the canvas with a esoteric dislocation. To further amplify that eccentric impression, his fairytale-like painting style certainly plays a central role. The artist prefers to portray his protagonists as chubby and cartoon-like figures with plump faces, very much reminding us of those plastic figures all children endeavors to twist and collect in their deficient childhood. By confining his figures to the very centre of the canvas, they seem to be shrunk by some imaginative, scientific gadgets one comes across only in cartoon or childish whimsical. He drifts us even further away from the realistic present by leaving his canvas largely empty and dying this emptiness with a thin and pale layer of coffee, tea or ink or a gloomy atmosphere by rubbing pencils or coal softly (those conventional artistic dexterity), to embed his canvas in a poetic and oracular atmosphere very uniquely of the ancient Chinese paintings. Caricature-like protagonists, assimilating with contested juxtaposition, irritating elements and sweetened and soft strokes endow Ji Dachun's paintings with an inviting tension. It looks plain, as neat and pure as fairytale, yet hidden meanings and reflection insinuating underneath and luring the spectators cunningly to linger. Artistically, the blurry and poetic hue is made a signature of the artist to depict and mimic a dreamy mind in a trance. Caught in between the playful reality and poetry realm, the artist explores the tension and ambiguity involved. Thematically, Ji Dachun has an intention to testify the vulnerable boundary demarcating 'sublime' and 'vulgar', 'grandeur' and 'ludicrous'. The four oeuvres featured in this May sale very well exemplify the artist's above characteristics.

    The presence of absence the power of emptiness

    The Pagoda Series (Lot 488) (1997) is one from the artist's series of pagoda and utensils recurring in the 90s. The artist positions the religious pagoda in the midst of grey emptiness as if it is floating in an esoteric realm detaching from any specific temporal and spatial dimensions. Otherwise, it would be a left-over in its forever solitude after witnessing uncountable changes of dynasties, ups and downs in human civilization, has a predestined loneliness and despair. Untitled (Lot 486) depicts a gang whose plump faces match quite well with their bun-like hats. They are depicted to mingle and quarrel clumsily with one another, sometimes raising their chemical spray, sometimes their brooms. Perhaps, they are referring to all those renowned political struggles, arguing for power or for different ideologies. To juxtapose the seemingly political reference with a humorous and banter manner, one is tempted to reflect any wars or struggle in the name of grandeur might just resemble a children fight. The three little saints in the work title Three Saints (Lot 487) are that ardent not in their sublime undertakings, but just in their cleaning and a humble desire to make surrounding clean and neat. Reference to sublimation is superseded, yet a sense of loveliness and compassion emerge. In Skull (Lot 489), the artist depicts with a delicate and shiny stroke the very symbol of death. The horror of unnamable death ridiculous finds a most intriguing and stunning presentation through art. The artist has developed a new style recently in which he depicts all kinds of utensils he comes across in everyday life. Things are represented not only in themselves, but also as a figurative incarnation of that very specific, ephemeral moment, atmosphere and sensation when Ji Dachun is touched and propelled to artistic undertakings.