(B. 1962)
Shanghai: City God Temple
signed in Chinese; signed 'Liu Da Hong' in Pinyin; dated '95' (lower left)
oil on canvas
100.1 x 100.1 cm. (39 1/2 x 39 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1995
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7 October 2007, Lot 709
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

The rural idylls and fantasies of the Cultural Revolution recur in Liu Dahong's imagining and kaleidoscope-like realms and are presented as a grotesque urban reality. The Old Theatre (Lot 1374) examines Chinese cultural history and dynamic social space through the age-old tradition of watching theatre. Liu stated, "The theatre is a cameo, a silhouette of society this is particularly true in China." Like the grotesque and marginal characters that are magnified in Pieter Bruegel's works, here the real actors are beneath the stage, masquerading, jesting and sleeping, free of societal constraints, wholly bizarre. Liu artfully marries folk and kitsch motifs from mass-produced New Years' paintings with popular political vernacular as seen through absurdity and satire in a signature simple narrative style that is ebulliently painted in brilliant colours. Shanghai (Lot 1373) is revelatory of the artist's imaginative capacity in reinterpretations of cultural landmarks and everyday contemporary scenes, filling them with illusion, fantasy and dream and signifying the complex heritage inherited.

The structure and historical significance of justice are equally reexamined in Law Temple (Lot 1375) where the heroes, martyrs and losers of a past revolution are weighed before court in an image with great tension of politicized idiom that is met with visual eccentricity, intellectual humor and irony. A recurring motif in contemporary art, the events of the Cultural Revolution is an ambiguous juxtaposition through Liu's lenses in Running Yellow River and Swinging Snow Mountain (Lot 1376). The promulgated socialist ideals of a bygone era in a scene from the Long March are contrasted with a panoramic landscape of desolate iciness. Through these, Liu continue to form his own philosophy in painting versed at folk and political argot to express a concern for the fate of mankind and cultural history.

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