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    Sale 2706

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 914


    Price Realised  


    (CHANG YU, 1901-1966)
    Lady in Green Gloves
    signed in Chinese; signed 'Sanyu' in French (bottom)
    plaster decorated with hand-painted glaze sculpture
    41 x 12.5 x 8 cm. (16 x 5 x 3 in.)
    Executed circa 1940s

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    With the study or reappearance of different works, we have been strikingly astonished by the achievement of Sanyu's paintings. However, owing to the few numbers of works, his sculptures are rarely known. According to the publications, the artist has created only eight to nine pieces of sculptures. Among them there are horses and zebras that are his beloved animal subjects, whereas three pieces appeared in his studio are of human figures, except two of which are the same in appearance, the other is Lady in Green Gloves (Lot 914) created in the 1930s. Since sculptures are scanty in auctions, its rarity and preciousness is imaginable, and it will definitely be significant for study and collective value for those who admire Sanyu's works.

    During 1942 to 1945, Sanyu had exhibited only animal and figure sculptures in solo salons. It was probably due to the shortage of painting materials in wartimes. On the other hand, it reveals Sanyu's interest in sculpture. Besides Lady in Green Gloves, the artist has also created the oil-painting, Lady in Green Gloves (Fig.1). It is not difficult to infer that the two different forms of works are Sanyu's repetitive exploration of the same subject. While his oil paintings created in the 1930s tend to expressively outline the silhouettes and to play with brushstrokes, Lady in Green Gloves, in terms of form, has already exhibited a return to the affirmative lines of geometric forms. Its apparently clumsy form and its absence of redundant embellishments are derived from the artist's honest character and also reveal the typical simplicity and purity of his works. He transforms his beloved subjects into space-occupying entity, and through daily thorough observation and continuous practices, he exhibits a combination of formal elements with unique sense of space in later works. This time, with the reappearance of Lady in Green Gloves, we have been able to have an insight into Sanyu's transition of stylistic changes spanning from the 1930s to the 1950s, and to know his willful playing in between graphic and three-dimensional works and the interactive influence of the two different spatial arts.

    In 1929, Sanyu began to apply the calligraphic skills he had acquired much earlier, using the calligraphy brush to paint nudes in inky black lines. The nudes appear in coarse, heavy strokes as exaggerated, heavy-limbed figures, though finer lines lightly touched onto the canvas create more supple shoulders and delicate facial features. This was the style that would cause a stir at the fall Salon in Paris that same year, and Hsu Chih-mo-famous Chinese man of letters and Sanyu's close friend-who was pleasantly surprised at their uniqueness, even used the affectionate term "cosmic thighs" to hint at the startling artistry and imagination evoked in Sanyu's nudes. The auction collects a numbers of striking sketches of nudes and portraits which reveals Sanyu's repetitive practices of these beloved themes and hence the creation of affluent and diversified mature style. As he captured their full, fleshy presence and their expressions in clean, flowing lines that meander appealingly across the pictorial space so as to throw the figure's presence into relief against the background space.