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SHEN FAN
(Chinese, B. 1952)
River Landscape-C-06 (Oval)
titled and signed in Chinese; signed 'SHENFAN' in Pinyin; dated '2006' (lower right)
oil on canvas
138 x 118 cm. (54 1/3 x 46 1/3 in.)
Painted in 2006
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Please note that Lot 2600 is signed in Chinese as well.

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

In contemporary China, abstract art is a prevalent art form alongside political pop and symbolic expressionism. It is loaded with a uniquely oriental style of representation, an extension of the attempt by Chinese artists to take liberties with traditional artistic elements while engaging in Western discourses on abstraction. The works of Shen Fan, a Shanghai-based artist, are illustrative of this quality of Chinese art. River Landscape-C-06 (Lot 2600), in particular, exemplifies his style. Using acrylic colors, the artist creates a repetitive pattern of straight and wavy lines that appear like a product of embossing directing the viewer's attention to the texture and expressiveness of the colors and the sheer beauty of the lines. While Shen often avails himself of the same abstract symbol in a work, repetitiveness is a motif commonly found in contemporary Chinese abstract art: Ding Yi and Li Shan, for example, are at home with repetitive expression. Flowing on the canvas like water drops, the pigments of Shen suggests the ever-growing, ever-changing nature of art. It is not, in other words, shaped or irrefutably defined. A kind of spiritual reflection is embedded in his abstract symbolism, which convey both the essence and the real appearance of things. The texture his pigments create resembles the contouring lines and textural strokes of traditional Chinese landscape, a reproduction that revitalizes the expression of Chinese traditional art in the contemporary context. Another work of Shen, 95-P-43 (Lot 2601), painted in 1995, shows us the artist's unique way of expression taken shape even in the early phase of his creative career. Curving lines are the only constitutive symbol of this monochromatic work, and it is the intention of the artist to standardize the tone of every stroke. His monochromatic approach to color furnishes the work with a pure, muted and sober character. The repetitive linear pattern shrouds the canvas, obstructing the perception of any focal point or high spot in the work, which, accordingly, looks extremely flat and uniform to the eyes. That said, a frame is deliberately set out to circumscribe the work, affirming its identity as a painting. By transgressing the rule of perspective and the constraint real-world representation, Shen establishes a pure space of art that tells of his mature artistic judgment and his integral motif of expression. With the immersion of Chinese traditional artistic elements - the upright rectangular design, the monochromatic tone and the allegedly calligraphic lines restyled from block characters - Shen has interpolated much of the Chinese soul in the symbols of contemporary abstract art.

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