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Liu Dahong (B. 1962)
Liu Dahong (B. 1962)

The Mid-Autumn Festival

Liu Dahong (B. 1962)
The Mid-Autumn Festival
signed and inscribed in Chinese; signed 'Liu Da Hong' in Pinyin; & dated '89' (lower right)
oil on canvas
80 x 65 cm. (31 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1989
Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong, China
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Schoeni Fine Oriental Art, Liu Da Hong: Paintings 1986-92, Hong Kong, China (illustrated, p. 64)
Educate the People Publishing House, Hanart TZ Gallery, Liu Dahong's Textbook: Elementary Level (Lessons 1 to 27), Hong Kong, China, 2008 (illustrated, p. 34).

Lot Essay

The rural idylls and fantasies of the Cultural Revolution are reimagined in Liu Dahong's kaleidoscope-like realms and are presented as grotesque urban reality, simultaneously bemusing and absurd. Liu artfully marries Chinese folklore and kitsch motifs, with history and fantastical visions, creating a kind of 'historical variety show'. Liu's sprawling compositions and panoramic views are reminiscent of the old master paintings of Pieter Breughel and Goya. His paintings are profound allegories where existing values and social issues are questioned. Liu was born in Qingdao to intellectual parents after the Great Leap Forward, and the lugubrious mood of those times informs his value system and moulds his uniquely Chinese artistic vernacular.
In The Mid-Autumn Festival (Lot 408), the artist paints a scene of gluttonous bacchanalia, atop a wine barrel like a revolving restaurant. The people are in the midst of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon, an ancient holiday associated with good harvest. Pop stars mingle with fictional Chinese opera characters; jugglers drink alongside ancient historical figures such as the Tang Dynasty poet Li Po; the atmosphere is unbridle indulgence. The feeding frenzy includes an extensive menu of traditional dishes, such as lion's head, crabs and roast chicken, and the more exotic dishes of monkey brain and pig's head. In the midst of this drunken absurdity, a sign declares 'Da Ya Hall' (Elegance Hall). Perhaps the artist is parodying an overindulgent contemporary society concerned with materialistic desires and lacking in spirituality. The Mid-Autumn Festival is nevertheless a riotous orgy of festivity.

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