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    Sale 2605

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 601


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1953)
    Naoko is Setting Christmas
    oil on canvas
    144 x 96 cm. (56 3/4 x 37 3/4 in.)
    Painted in 2007

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    It is all too easy to be enthralled in the rich Italian Renaissance imagery of Mitsuru Watanabe's paintings. From Michelangelo's Pieta (Naoko is Setting Chistmas) ( Lot 601) to Botticelli's Primavera (Yukikio Dreaming) (Lot 602), the reference of a heavenly presence is undeniable. In each of these three paintings, Naoko or Yukiko, the two protagonists are often dreaming and dazed, indirectly connected to the great Renaissance works. Watanabe fuses well known symbols of religion with everyday figure as he believes that it is this combination of idioms and famous works with the ordinary that produces a distinctive and inspired work. In this unique scenario, the works of Michelangelo and Botticelli only serve as the context for a contemporary painting and girl.

    With delicate and even brushstrokes, he acutely replicates the tactile quality of an Italian Renaissance work of art. As painters of the 16th Century were very attentive to composition, Watanabe likewise positions a triangular figure as the central focus of his works. As if the young girls were themselves a Madonna, they are each found to be standing in front of a table, an altar of sorts. In Naoko is Setting Christmas (Lot 601) Naoko's fingers gingerly pick up a member of the nativity scene. Her sideways glance suggests that she is imagining the Pieta in the same way Yukiko is conversing with the painting of Madonna in Yukiko Reading (Lot 602). As she reads the acid green pages of a Japanese manga, Yukiko's eyebrows are raised, as if someone is gently whispering in her left ear. In Yukiko Dreaming (Lot 602), Watanabe suggests that even in her dream, she is talking with the goddess in Primavera. In every painting, the story is clear and simple, a creative rearrangement of portraits and religious masterpieces. His works through bright, colourful and imaginative are not meant to humour, but instigates the viewer to question why we respect and understanding prominent artworks and draw a personal connection for these pieces, not one dictated by books and reputation.