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These Are Still Flowers 1912-2012

These Are Still Flowers 1912-2012
Scroll, mounted on canvas and framed
Ink and mineral colours on silk
97 x 70.5 cm. (38 1/4 x 27 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2012

These Are Still Flowers 1912
Scroll, mounted and framed
Oil on canvas
37 x 30 cm. (14 5/8 x 11 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2012 (2)
Post lot text
During Zhang Daqian's sojourns between Brazil, USA and Taiwan in the later years of his life, the Imperial Hotel was a spot which Zhang frequented most often when he was in Taiwan. At the beginning of 1968, Zhang invited his good friends back in Taiwan for Chinese New Year. Apart from visiting friends and relatives, their main purpose in Taiwan was for Zhang's wife Xu Wenbo to visit Ma Shouhua and study under his tutelage. At the time, Ma was the head of the Chinese paintings society with his own flair and individual style, in particular in the drawing of orchids and bamboo, Xu was formally accepted as an apprentice of Ma at the Imperial Hotel. The Imperial Hotel was established by Filippino-Chinese Cai Shaohua, in a bid to promote Taiwanese tourism and culture in the 1960s. With experience at the Central Hotel, Cai began the construction of the Imperial hotel in 1967 and it officially opened in 1968. The opening was attended by many important officials and dignitaries, and the hotel became a meeting point for diplomats and official meetings. This particular painting was created in 1968 and gifted to Cai, who had the painting hung in the hotel for a long period of time before it was removed to be kept long in the family collection as he felt that the painting was too precious to be hung in the hotel.
As one of the most prolific, well-travelled Chinese painters in the history of modern China, Zhang Daqian's splashed ink-and-colour technique transformed traditional Chinese painting and brought the genre onto the international scene. This vibrant splashed ink-and-colour creation is proof of his power to translate an ancient art style into an individual idiom. Choosing not to emphasize on details and realistic portraiture, Zhang splashes ink and colour on paper, allowing the ink to flow by rotating the paper surface to channel the flow. Without completely giving in to abstraction, Zhang then adds details to his paintings to place the majestic colours in time and space - house, trees, and mountain outlines are thoughtfully arranged, while Zhang's inscription on the right hand side notes that this scene was painted in Zhang's own Garden of Eight Virtues.

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Carmen Shek Cerne
Carmen Shek Cerne

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Lot Essay

In Yang Jiechang's These are Still Flowers series, what appears to be grotesque and violent is transformed, through the act of translation, into something benevolent and beautiful. From an old catalogue, the artist first copied an oil flower painting by the young Adolf Hitler created a century ago, which he then interpreted using intense, mineral pigments of Tang, Song and Ming dynasty Buddhist mural paintings, combined with meticulously fine brush techniques typically associated with bird-and-flower paintings. Distanced from its historical origin, the flower imagery remains an arresting painting, even if painted by Hitler; yet by creating a conceptual rift, the artist presents the viewer with a dilemma of an unsettling dissonance.

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