‘Spurred by recent socio-economic and cultural changes, Chinese contemporary art has gained a new vitality,’ says Christie’s specialist Danqing Li. ‘Its creative energy continues to capture interest the world over.’
In line with our global vision to develop auctions of cutting-edge contemporary art, and as a continuation to the critically acclaimed First Open in London and New York, we are proud to present +86 First Open in Shanghai on 24 October.
This new sale offers a stellar array of young, passionate and visionary Chinese artists who combine technical ability with a deep knowledge of materials rooted in the country’s long tradition of producing exquisite works of art. As Danqing Li says, ‘They represent the present and the future of Chinese contemporary art.’
Liu Wei (Chinese, B. 1972), Purple Air, 2009. Oil on canvas. 180 x 300 cm. (70 ⅞ x 118 in.). Estimate: RMB1,500,000-2,500,000 ($240,000-400,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
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In Chinese classical painting, a mirage of purple refers to a state of haze, lacking in clarity but in fact full of vitality. Liu Wei’sPurple Air paintings, a series started in 2006, are created with computer software that generates patterns and pixels which are then applied to canvas and filled in with colour.
Purple Air is composed of abstract patterns of vertical lines which cover the canvas in a gauze-like grid. At once engulfing and enthralling, the rise and fall of these rhythmic lines create the impression of three dimensional buildings that linger in the air.
Elements from traditional landscape painting — light and shadow, tonality and perspective, are deconstructed and rearranged into geometric colour blocks, conveying the artist’s responses to issues confronting the environment, the economy and society at large.
Xu Zhen By Madein Company
Xu Zhen By Madein Company (est. 2009), "Unification is a reductive process rather than a process of gain, in which loyal believers never feel complete or secure" series No. 1, 2010. Digital fine art pigment print mounted on aluminum. 150 x 159 cm. (59 x 62 ½ in.) Estimate: RMB250,000-350,000 ($40,000-55,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Driven by his appetite for global information, Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen produces artwork across multiple media and platforms. In 2009, he founded MadeIn Company, declaring the death of the author as an individual. Four years later, in 2013, MadeIn Company launched the brand Xu Zhen.
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‘Unification is a reductive process rather than a process of gain, in which loyal believers never feel complete or secure’ series No. 1 is named after a quote from The True Believer, philosopher Eric Hoffer’s acclaimed book on social psychology. The work is part of Xu Zhen by MadeIn’s True Image Series (2010), created using visual media (photography or video) and presented as an ‘artwork’.
This work deals with the power and influence of the media as a tool for the diffusion of information. In recent decades, visual mass media has become our main source of information with the growth of the internet ensuring its influence has never been stronger. With this work Xu Zhen sends a message: fewer pictures are what one really needs.
Qiu Xiaofei (Chinese, B. 1977), Stiff Remains, 2009.Oil on canvas. 280 x 360 cm. (110 ¼ x 141 ¾ in.) Estimate: RMB1,200,000-1,500,000 ($190,000-240,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Qiu Xiaofei’s installation painting Art Class (2007) was featured in The Real Thing: Contemporary Art from China at Tate Modern in London, alongside works by a number of renowned Chinese contemporary artists. His intention is to shift the viewer’s focus away from forms and his artistic approach so that they can fully engage with the emotional dimension of his paintings. Stiff Remains, painted in 2009, is a chronicle of the emotional displacement experienced by the artist.
An upside-down modernist building that resembles a castle, a mysterious red cube, the Chinese words ‘Stiff Remains’ and a naked figure — seemingly bound, both mentally and physically — create a narrative that is complicated and ambiguous, but which serves to place Qiu's personal experiences in the wider historical context, while simultaneously stirring painful memories for both artist and viewer.
Huang Yuxing (Chinese, B. 1975), River, 2013.Acrylic on canvas. 142 x 230 cm. (56 x 90 ½ in.) Estimate: RMB200,000-300,000 ($30,000-48,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Beijing-born and a graduate of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Huang Yuxing has repeatedly returned to the river as a theme. Representing his definition of the ‘shape’ of time, Huang’s reflections draw inspiration from the writings of scientist Stephen Hawking: ‘Time flows like a river and it seems as if each of us is carried relentlessly along by time's current. But time is like a river in another way. It flows at different speeds in different places and that is the key to travelling into the future.’
Using neon acrylic paints, the artist captures the light as it pours through the trees before mixing with the swirls of water in the foreground. The effect is one of a saturated dreamland in which the distant trees appear to melt and float in a world that is collapsing and disappearing.
Lu Xinjian (Chinese, B. 1977), Reflections — Sleepless in Pudong, 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 200 x 400 cm. (118 x 157 ½ in.) Estimate: RMB200,000-300,000 ($) 30,000-48,000. This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Painted in 2014, Reflections — Sleepless in Pudong is a large-scale work from Lu Xinjian’s most recent series, City Stream, articulating his continuing response to the cityscape of Shanghai. His background in graphic design is evident in the expert use of vector graphics to capture the city’s energy and vitality: ‘Roaming in this massive city, with its endless streams of cars and densely packed buildings of varying heights, makes me feel infinitely energised,’ explains the artist.
Reflections — Sleepless in Pudong invites the viewer’s imagination to run wild, and in his distinctive approach to projecting the Shanghai cityscape, Lu continues to explore new ways of seeing.
Ran Huang (Chinese, B. 1982), The Next Round is True Life, 2009. HD Digital Master + Color + Silent, 27’23’’. Edition 4/5. Estimate: RMB80,000-120,000 ($) 13,000-19,000. This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Ran Huang’s passion for film is rooted in the medium’s openness to ideas. Inspired by a line in the film Syriana, this work, The Next Round is True Life (2009), investigates the inescapable clichés of contemporary culture and politics.
One of his earlier films, it was produced in London after the completion of his MFA from Goldsmiths College, and depicts three men dressed in white shirts taking turns chewing the same piece of gum until the flavour fades. The function of eating therefore becomes a metaphor for material consumption; we eat in order to get energy for life, but when you eat bubble gum it is the opposite — you waste energy chewing it.
In August, Ran received the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Bursary at the Sarajevo Film Festival and his short film selection was also nominated at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. In addition to working in film, he produces sculpture, installation, photography, paintings and drawings.
Zhang Enli (Chinese, B. 1965), The Partial, 2013.Oil on canvas. 42x37.5 cm. (16 ½ x 15 in.) Estimate: RMB180,000-280,000 ($28,000)–45,000. This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Born in Jilin, Zhang Enli graduated from the Arts & Design Institute of Wuxi Technical University in 1989. Unlike many of his Chinese contemporaries, his paintings bear no relation to the ‘Political Pop’, ‘Kitsch Art’ or ‘Cynical Realism’ prevalent during the 1990s.
Instead, his artistic focus is the void — the presence of absence and the mundane reality of everyday life. In The Partial, Zhang forms horizontal and vertical lines in which the paint moves swiftly and fluidly, but is applied so thinly that the lines become almost translucent. The function of the lines is not to create a narrative or to give shape to any particular object, but to show us the presence of the void — as if the artist is giving shape to the unseen.
Chen Tianzhuo (Chinese, B. 1985), Eye, 2013. Painted wood carving, neon light. 240 x 240 x 100 cm. (94 7/16 x 94 7/16 x 39 5/16 in.) Edition 3/3. Estimate: RMB80,000-120,000 ($13,000-19,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
A graduate of London’s Central St. Martins and Chelsea colleges of Art and Design, Chen Tianzhuo’s artistic vocabulary has been shaped by youth subcultures, religious iconography, Pop Art and an insatiable hunger for dissolving, twisting and ultimately recreating the motifs and symbols of our celebrity-fuelled world.
In his 2013 creation Eye, Chen employs wood to fashion a complete eyeball structure behind which lies a detailed depiction of muscle groups and blood vessels. Both ends of the eyeball appear to be suspended in mid-air, and regimented radial white light tubes in the background diffuse a sun-like halo, resembling the ‘evil eye’.
At the opening of his first solo show in Paris de Tokyo in June, Chen explained to Blouin Art Info: ‘The conflict between the old and new encourages Chinese art to grow and change at a faster pace in terms of both subject matter and form.’
Wang Haiyang (Chinese, B. 1984), Untitled, 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 210 x 300 cm. (82 ⅝ x 118 in.) Estimate: RMB150,000-250,000 ($24,000-40,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Since graduating from the Printmaking Department of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2008, Wang Haiyang has been engaged primarily in painting and hand-drawn animation, for which he was won numerous international awards.
Untitled is a large-scale acrylic on canvas documenting the artist’s signature explorations of the subconscious — random animals, people and plants gather and undergo strange transformations; sunny yellow, water-hued blue, and black brushstrokes interwoven with pink line fragments. At times suggestive and peaceful, at others intriguing and provocative, Wang’s creations reflect the state of his soul while constantly pushing the viewer to consider new horizons.
Qu Fengguo (Chinese, b.1966), Four Series Series-Night, 2012. Oil on linen. 135 x 200 cm. (53 1/8 x 78 ¾ in.) Estimate: RMB150,000-250,000 ($24,000-40,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Qu Fengguo (Chinese, B. 1966), Four Season Series — Full Grain, 2013. Oil on linen. 135 x 200 cm. (53 1/8 x 78 ¾ in.) Estimate: RMB150,000-250,000 ($24,000-40,000). This work is offered in our +86 First Open sale on 24 October at Christie’s Shanghai
Born in Liaoning, Qu Fengguo graduated from the Stage Design Department at the Shanghai Theater Academy. A passionate advocate for the simplicity of abstraction, he layers paint on the canvas in a succession of different colours before covering each layer with horizontal lines which he allows to bleed and smudge to give a sense of time passing.
In the Four Season Series, Qu assigns an associated colour to each of the seasons and 24 solar terms. The two Four Season works presented in the launch of +86 First Open employ the lines as an attempt to transfer time to the canvas and affix it there. The result is a complex score in which light, colour, space and time move in relation to each other.
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