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Tojinbo, Japan
signed 'S. Yang' in Pinyin (lower left)
oil on canvas
53 x 65 cm. (20 7/8 x 25 3/4 in.)
Private Collection, Asia

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Felix Yip

Lot Essay

In 1922 Yang Sanlang traveled to study in Japan and enrolled at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and then later, transferred to study Western painting at the Kansai College of Art. Since 1927 he had been invited to Taiwan Art Exhibition, as well as Kansai Art Exhibition and Shunyo-Kai Art Exhibition in Japan. From 1931 to 1933, Yang resided in France and, through the process of repetitively training himself of the old masters' use of color and techniques, thus resulting on the gradual shift of his works from depicting the Pleinairism and Impressionist style of light and shadows to the Post-impressionist expressions of feelings. Yang not only assimilated the Modern Art movement but also stressed on subjective feelings, and also understood nature with acute sensitivity; echoing the contemporary Asian art scene that was heavily exposed and influenced by Western painting, he immediately reflected upon it while aware of preserving the aesthetics of the traditional Eastern painting. Whether in subject matter or in style, Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008) presents a unique geological setting of Japan's scenic site, which among the many outdoor landscape paintings Yang painted, seascape is perhaps one of his favored subjects; verifying this particular work offered in this Evening sale as one of the representative work of Yang's long-term artistic achievement.

Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008) depicts a cliff on the coast of Fukui Prefecture in Japan, a part of the Echizen-Kaga Kaigan Quasi-National Park. The rocks are described as largely andesite by his depiction of the cut surfaces of the cliff with its clear columnar texture, which thus far, this exceptional geological scene only exist in Japan, Korea and Norway. In Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008) Yang deliberately employed subdued hue of blue to illustrate the sea, to accentuate the horizontal line to recedes and create a sense of distance. He also highlights the warmth of the rocks by instilling earthen palette of yellow and brown- red. The pale yellow in the sky insinuates the source of light, simultaneously providing aesthetic unity to the entire painting, and furthermore resonate a sense of nostalgia, recalling the pleasant weather of the day Yang painted Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008). From the details of the painting, we can see the alternate use of brush and palette knife; the rubbing of dry brushes produces a rugged and coarse surface of columnar rocks and impersonates the splashes of waves striking against the shore. The reflection of sunlight fleeting through the clouds in the distance is articulated in smooth paint applied by the palette knife. With his artistic training and dedicated observation on nature, Yang gained acute sensibility in comprehending the uniqueness and essence of his subject, allowing him to capture transience of nature with an indubitable brushwork.

Unlike most of his seascapes, Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008) depicts moss patches in green dots on the right side of the cliff, a notably rare composition of the artist, wherein the pure seascape is implied with vitality and imbued with a fresh energy of life. In the foreground he depicts raging waves splashing against the rock, while in the farther distance the stormy waves are calmer. As he said, "It is possible to draw the waves after looking at the ocean and listening to the waves, but whenever I face the ocean, it triggers the feelings and praises toward nature I hold deep in my heart. Every single stroke is a demonstration of nature. "

Therefore, the "life painting" he emphasized is not to merely reproduce picture of nature but, after perceiving and internalizing the existing environment, to subjectively express on the canvas of what he saw, heard, thought and felt. Yang's awe for the phenomena of nature is clearly depicted in Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008), through the stunning scenery of the rugged and steep andesitic columnar rocks, eroded by the strapping waves. With subjective colors and direct brushstrokes, he has followed the ninetieth century Romanticism admiration for the power of nature and the emancipation of feelings. Noting the audience's encapsulation for the milieu of the painting, Tojinbo, Japan (Lot 1008) also represents a new art-experience for the artist himself in providing a sensual interaction with the audience.

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