(Chinese, B. 1965)
Waterfall in High Mountain
signed in Chinese (lower right); titled and signed in Chinese; inscribed '200 cm x 100 cm'; signed 'Xue Song' in Pinyin; dated '2009' (lower right)
mixed media on canvas
200 x 100 cm. (78 3/4 x 39 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2009
Private Collection, Asia

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Felix Yip

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Lot Essay

Art creation and inspiration have always been related, and Xue Song is inspired by fire. In the 1190s a fire that burned Xue Song's collection into ashes, many of the books became flying ashes of unrecognized fragments. However, the material loss did not make him depressed, on the contrary the burned paper ashes inspired to his creative thinking. From then onwards, Xue Song deliberately uses the print books' images and printed matter for the ashes, then again creates different images on canvas, such as political iconic figures, Chinese calligraphy, landscape, historic photos and even Coca-Cola bottles become popular images. Although these images lack detail description, a distinct profile can be identified within the theme.
Objects burned on the surface have destructive and negative means, and the act of burning in the traditional Chinese culture has different positive meanings. Since ancient times, Chinese people worship heaven, earth, spirits and ancestors, basically cannot escape from the nature world of respect, the spirit of the worshippers can compare to the welfare and benefits. In particular in ancestor worship, ancestors and living descendants stress the longitudinal links, excluding scientific validation of the objective. Ancestors are Chinese's spiritual collective home. The burning of paper clothing is the most common ritual in the traditional Chinese custom. The act of burning is for prosperity and for a happy ending. Xue Song's persistent burning makes people think about strong worship meanings, but he is not link to the personal clan system. It belongs to the great development of Chinese civilization and to the traditional Chinese arts' spirits ceremony.
Waterfall in High Mountain (Lot 1441) uses Chinese traditional landscape painting's composition as the reference. However, the literati painters sought for unique aesthetic characteristics, such as calligraphy style, dry shade and concentration upon lasting appeal. Under Xue Song's execution it is not as important, his artistic style is from the folk system of spirit; complies of western pop's modern language. Traditional brushstroke is replaced by collage of ink painting and calligraphy and transforms into independent and interactive information elements: sky, rock, river all carry a beautiful layer of cultural manner. Xue Song's mountains are combined of segments of traditional landscape painting, and formed by crisp black lines. His rivers are inspired from Chinese calligraphy. In Chinese tradition, dictionary has named "word source", "word sea" or even "word abysm". It is not difficult to find responses from contemporary artists are in their own spiritual and cultural values. Charred Root (Lot 1440) describes a withered wood tree, even though a few branches are hanging down helplessly, the remaining strong trunk still grabbed firmly on the ground. Dead trees from the beautiful garden's landscape add beauty to the laws of nature. Their vigorous and simplicity are compared to the surrounding colorful plants. Thus withered tree is often independent as a painting's subject, due to its unique quality and can be changed in many ways. Xue Song uses dead tree's wood to create a beautiful work that has both a contemporary and ancient feel. Welcome Pine (Lot 1456) is from the famous HuangShan mountain's favourite tourist spot called "Welcome Pine". The branches of "Welcome Pine" are like open arms, that is how it gets the name. It has great commercial tourism's value and it is widely copied due to its hospitality and harmonious factors. Even the national leaders greet many foreign guests in the Great Hall of the large "Welcome Pine" painting. Ironically, in order to interfere the unsuitable political ideology appearing on television broadcast, the image of "Welcome Pine" will thus appears on the television screen during such circumstance.
Xue Song has successfully used the "Welcome Pine" as the symbol of his popularity, to match with his typical surface rendering's style. The audience's attention will not only focus on the detail descriptions, which may reflect further on the image's composition and it is unique in cultural significance. The tree trunk of "Welcome Pine" is covered with revolutionary heroes and promotional images of happy people; combines with the human hospitality characters of the "Welcome Pine". Whether it is the figures' image or close to the screen on both sides of the text structure, are also reflected in the contemporary society to accept the overflow of information. The audience may not be able to know about the specific matters, but only to master a whole idea of abstraction.
Chinese culture during the Cultural Revolution experienced a major test, like that of a fire. It was followed by the country's reform and influences slowly restore itself as a whole. Xue Song's act of burning and its reorganization, the success of the traditional and modern language combined, have implied a Chinese culture like the brilliance of phoenix's rebirth.

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