Untitled (Chinese)

Untitled (Chinese)
initialled and dated ‘J.C.S 08’ (on the overlap)
inkjet print, spray paint, ink, resin and oil on polyester
274.3 x 243.8 cm. (108 x 96 in.)
Executed in 2008
The Artist.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
C. McGrath, 'Harmonic Convergence: When Julian Met Placido', in The New York Times , 16 September 2008 (installation view in the artist's studio illustrated in colour, p. E1).
Saatchi Gallery, Julian Schnabel: Untitled (Chinese Paintings) , exh. cat., London, UK, 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 9).
London, UK, Saatchi Gallery, Julian Schnabel: Untitled (Chinese Paintings), October 2008 - January 2009. This exhibition later travelled to Naples, Italy, Museo di Capodimonte, July - September 2009.

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Lot Essay

‘ I like when I’m looking at something that’s just about to form itself [...] The disagreement between the surface and what’s behind it — that space in between is what interests me.’

–Julian Schnabel

Painted in 2008, Julian Schnabel’s large-scale Untitled (Chinese) is invigorated rush of liquid colour. In Untitled (Chinese), splashes of aquamarine, ribbons of silver and curls of yellow jostle and coalesce in an elaborate choreography. The work is part of Schnabel’s homonymous series of paintings, which together are based upon a 19th Century Chinese mirror whose surface is decorated with a reclining woman of coloured enamel. Ivory flowers wrap around the mirror’s frame, and at the bottom are three carved figures, who perhaps can be interpreted as sages. Instead of reproducing the mirror as a whole, Schnabel’s Untitled (Chinese) is a transliteration, in isolation of a minute detail then magnified and rendered monumental.

After the series was complete, the artist brought the paintings outdoors, exposing them to the ravages of weather. Although the original artefact is virtually unrecognizable, hints of the painting’s origins can be discerned, as the foggy, aqueous grey resembles the spotted and ageing reflective surface. ‘Schnabel,’ writes curator David Moos, ‘likes to paint and to cancel at the same time, to reject and to discover something that is lost, bringing the past into the present… Schnabel invites indeterminacy, offering the composite image as a proposition of both rupture and merger. As one surveys these paintings individually, each reverberates with that possibility, the simultaneous integration and disintegration of the image’ (D. Moos, ‘A False Sense of Intimacy’, Julian Schnabel: Untitled (Chinese Mirror Paintings), exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, 2009, n. p.). Schnabel has long looked to other cultures and historical periods for inspiration, and his paintings meld temporalities. He rocketed out of American Modernist traditions with his monumental Neo-Expressionist canvases, whose wildly animated brushwork embodied an intense intensity of emotion. These same gestures can be seen in Untitled (Chinese), which presents a hallucinatory refraction of the original motif.

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