• Chinese 20th Century Art (Day  auction at Christies

    Sale 2725

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Day Sale)

    30 November 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1314


    Price Realised  


    (YU BEN, 1905-1995)
    The Home of Palms (Xinhui)
    signed in Chinese (lower left)
    oil on board
    50 x 61 cm. (19 5/8 x 24 in.)
    Painted in 1960

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    Entering the era of the new China, painter Yee Bon delved anew into creating works in oil and began searching for style with a modern zeitgeist but also tinged with an eastern flavor. Yee once said, "I've often thought that if the Chinese are going to study Western oil painting, they should add to it something of their own ethnic character, and try harder to understand their own art." Yee Bon himself worked to gain such an understanding, taking up traditional Chinese ink and brush painting, but adapting a more nativist approach in which traditional techniques could be utilized in the medium of oil.

    Yee Bon was an acknowledged master of still life. Finding beauty even in the ordinary objects of daily life, Yee Bon gave great importance to the still life form throughout his artistic career. He gave careful consideration to subject, composition, and colour just as he did in his treatment of human subjects or landscapes, while developing his own unique style and aesthetic predilections. Yu's early still lifes, carrying classical, Realist influences, featured fine brushwork in dark hues. Created in 1956, the Flowers and Vase (Lot 1316) shows the artist's painting career at its mature stage and vividly displays his uniqueness of capturing light and shadow.

    Yee Bon also embraced landscape painting and made great achievements in the genre, which engaged him continuously throughout his career. The painter lived in Hong Kong after 1935. Created in the 1950s, Hong Kong Night Scene (Lot 1315) depicts Yee's skilled brushwork in oil which captures light and its effects in a striking manner. Through the work, Yu provides a glimpse of that was Hong Kong which existed several decades ago, a contrast to the prosperous night scene of skyscrapers today. The naturalistic landscape depicted in The Home of Palms (Xinhui) (Lot 1314), created in 1960, is endowed with rich personal style. The meticulous brushstrokes and use of color conveys the feeling of genial sunshine. Unlike the Western Impressionist tradition, Yu uses monochromatic hues to portray the purity of the Chinese villages he paints. The Xinhui District of Jiangmen Prefecture of Guangdong Province is notable for its palms and hence dubbed the "Home of the Palms". In 1959, a man-made "Palm Lake" was excavated. Yu accentuates the geometric forms of the dark green palm leaves in the foreground with a back-lit light source that depicts their silhouettes. The dense palm forest and the whirling green shadows in the distance are reflected on the silent surface of the lake, reminiscent of a poem by Lu Huo that describes, "a lake of green water lingering on the past, the myriad trees and green palms looking into my eyes." As Yee grew up in the countryside, he has profound sentiments and strong affections for the working class. The warm hues of the evening glow outline the figures of peasants returning home from work. Besides capturing the beauty of nature in the painting, we can also find glimpses of the prevailing customs of the society depicted, and feel the serenity found in the Realist pictures of Jean-Francois Millet.


    Ling Nan Arts Publishing, The Art of Yee Bon, Guangdong, China, 1994 (illustrated, p. 120).