One of the post-1970s Chinese artists, Tu Hongtao is known for his excellent painting skills and sensitive expression of societal trends and norms. A graduate of the oil painting department of the Chinese Academy of Art, he has developed unique techniques and perspectives on colour and lines. He is skilled at depicting the physical forms, gestures and spirituality of his subject matter. Tu's images are often chaotic and contradictory, such as a weird performance on stage, a dusty and filthy city, shadowy and mysterious woods, depressing crowds, or snaking, lustful branches of trees. In his experience of the real world, society is a tangle of complexities around a chaotic pursuit of the illusion of paradise, so Tu turns to imaginary worlds for alternatives.
Deep and Serene (Lot 507) is an important recent work by Tu. The artist eschews the dramatic stage approach of focusing on particular characters and detailed plots, instead entering into a grand and empty world. He leaves behind direct observation of society to explore a more unpredictable, unforeseeable spiritual world. The green plants and quiet atmosphere deep within the painting illustrate his hope for the harmonious co-existence of man and nature, as well as the inspiration he draws from ever-changing nature. Some of the trees in the work are natives of Sichuan, the homeland of the Northern Song Dynasty writer SuShi. As they share a common hometown, the artist and writer are connected by their roots, and Tu's admiration for SuShi is reflected in his replication of his classical calligraphy. The brushstrokes and paint overlap in 'The Hidden World', creating a half-naturalistic, half-abstract image. The variations in colour, thickness and weight of paint and speed of brushwork draw the viewer into the creative process and create both a rational and sentimental mood. The viewer enters a world of serenity and tranquillity, without the noise of vehicles and horses, where one has too many emotions to put into words.