(Chinese, B. 1963)
signed in Chinese (upper right); signed in Chinese and dated '2001.7.25' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
180 x 79 cm. (71 x 31 in.)
Painted in 2001
Max Protetch Gallery (now Meulesteen), New York, USA
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Hebei Education Press, Chinese Artists of Today: Fang Lijun, Hebei, China, 2006 (illustrated, p. 414).
Culture and Art Publishing House, Fang Lijun, Beijing, China, 2010 (illustrated, p. 330).
Sale room notice
Please note that Lot 435 is signed by the artist on the upper right and also on the reverse.

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Fang Lijun started his career in the early 1990s, a significant period when a group of young artists were actively examining the result of the rise of contemporary art after the Cultural Revolution and searching for the real individual features. Both style and theme of Fang's work are extremely unique and clear, especially the image of bald figures which has been adapting for many years in his pieces and impresses the viewers with unforgettable memories, and turns out to be his individual art symbol with simple styles but remarkable implications. Fang's style has undergone several renovations from the bald crowds with intentional escape from the world to the dedicated swimmers searching for their souls deep inside the water, and later transforms into the depiction of mass public under the immense picture, such as 2001.7.25 (Lot 435) and others in the same series. Apart from the visual and language transformations, his own continuous emotional adjustment can also been seen in the picture, showing his view of the world changes from internal reflection to great compassion.

The figures in 2001.7.25 have reddish orange skin which appears to be particularly brightening under the grayish blue sky. Color red normally represents festivity and auspiciousness in traditional Chinese cultures and it has since been politically associated with Communism. The reddish characters seemingly suggest that people have been molded into cognate identities of the same skin color under the evolution of mankind and racial integration. The purpose of any form of revolution is to overthrow old ways and look for space for developing new concepts. Figures in red undoubtedly represent this revolutionary mindset for the change of better environment. They are looking up into the sky and staring at a man on the top wearing checked shirt and holding a yellow flower. Their eyes show their desperation as if they were anticipating rain after drought. The few flowers floating above them seem to not present a sight of pleasure for them, leading viewers to contemplate that the glorious picture means little to them when their real pursuit is ultimate perfection and happiness.

The image of a crowd raising flags and passionately shouting slogans generates a scene of enthusiasm filled with unlimited hope. Time, however, washes away past ideologies that once stood and replaces them with another system that fits to its times. For Fang, flower is a symbol for this utopian dream that existed and is now replaced by ideals of consumerism in contemporary China. Fang stated, 'The appearance of the flower is in fact so sudden, but it's mainly coming from life which is about the background of education. We have only been shown the good things since we were little while all the bad one have intentionally been covered up. Those things being concealed, however, give me the biggest crush.'

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