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(Born in 1968)
signed and dated 'Da Chun; Yiyou' in Chinese (upper middle)
acrylic on canvas
110 x 110.5 cm. (43 1/4 x 43 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2005
Base Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Lot Essay

Ji Dachun's paintings give its spectator a strong sense of eccentric, eerie tension. That kind of impression derives partly from his humorous juxtaposition of unexpected elements that define his unique artistic style. By confining his figures to the very centre of the canvas, they are shrunk to lead us away from the realistic present, leaving his canvas largely empty. Ji dyes this emptiness with a thin and pale layer of coffee, tea or ink, casting a gloomy atmosphere by rubbing pencils or coal softly, to embed his canvas in a poetic and oracular atmosphere very unique to ancient Chinese paintings. Caricature-like protagonists, out of place elements and soft strokes endow Ji Dachun's paintings with an inviting tension. It looks plain and neat, yet the hidden insinuations lure the spectators to linger. Thematically, Ji Dachun tries the vulnerable boundaries between 'sublime' and 'vulgar', 'grand' and 'ludicrous'.

I Went to Venice (Lot 994), executed in 1998, the artist questions the notion "the void of existence". The artist positions a baby in the midst of grey emptiness as if floating in an esoteric realm, detached from any specific temporal and spatial dimensions. Like floating within the placenta, bits of string bear a semblance to an umbilical cord yet it is detached, as much as the composition is detached from the title itself. Like Ron Mueck's Baby's One, the awkwardness and unease it renders the viewer is unmistakable.

Two Day Cold Addiction (Lot 993) contain the same indifference and absurdity with regards to the title and subject matter. Again suspended in grey mass, prominent features lend the viewer to recognize Hitler as the person being depicted, yet his complete nudity and the farcical elements inserted, such as the white bow tie and foot ornaments create a reversal of roles. The possessor of power becomes the viewer, while the image of Hitler is belittled to merely a passive object with grossly sexual undertones.

This critique on masculinity and power is something Ji permeates through his paintings. Taxi (Lot 1034) depicts a man poised to hail a cab with an umbrella in one hand. If not for the outfit, prominent hairstyle and symbolic hand gesture one would take this man as any other person trying to hail down a cab, yet parallels to Chairman Mao are obvious, creating yet another contradictory juxtaposition through title and subject matter. The empty background harks back to Ji's comment on eternal solitude, predestined loneliness and despair.

Mona Lisa Kill. Kill (Lot 995) underscores Ji's education in Chinese classical painting, and refers to traditional Chinese subject matter, where bamboo is to represent a scholar with upright morals who bends but does not break. Yet in Ji's representation they are awkwardly bent, cumbersome and weighty, killing any grace or ease it should enjoy. At the same time, Ji makes use of these two works to evoke memories of the way life used to be and his lingering affection for traditional values.

Oval Egg (Lot 1033) presents figures dressed in traditional Chinese costume compacted on a rocket face. The artist attempts to make the point between complex and simple living - the space rocket may signify exploration into space, competition between super powers and carrying the hopes and dreams of a society, yet at the same time it could be viewed simply as an oval. Ji accurately portrays his childlike sense of humour while essaying a macro perspective on society.

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.

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