(ZHANG WAN CHUAN, 1909-2003)
Potted Flowers
signed 'CHANG.' in Pinyin; signed in Chinese; dated '1992' (lower left); inscribed and dated '6F 1992'; signed and titled in Chinese; signed 'CHANG' in Pinyin (on the reverse)
oil and marker pen on canvas
41 x 31.8 cm. (16 1/8 x 12 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1992
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

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Lot Essay

Trained in Taiwan and Japan with an artistic career spanning over 70 years, Chang Wan Chuan has evolved a unique artistic style into one that combines Fauvism, Expressionism, and an accumulation of an austere life of experience. In Potted Flowers (Lot 1089) and Still Life with Fishes (Lot 1090), Chang uses an array of earth tones, mainly a mixture of green and brown, to create a background. He then boldly applies bright colours such as white, red, yellow and green to his subjects, giving them paramount attention to viewers all at once. The brisk, minimal, and almost childlike application of the seemingly sporadic black strokes in Potted Flowers infuses energy to the flower and the porcelain bowl on the imagery and also accentuates their presence. While in Still Life with Fishes, Chang's black outline is less refined, subtly giving shape to the fish, the spring onion, the lemon and the knife, harmonizing the domestic depiction of a table top. Chang's imagination is rich, original, and full of surprises. His domestic and sometimes unconventional compositions bring his works close to his audience, as if he is depicting a corner of a household one sees in everyday context.

In Standing Nudes and Two Seated Nudes (Lot 1091), Chang applies the same technique and experiment his canvas space with the rounded female figures. Chang's utmost concern here is not of conventional aesthetic and the minute details of the nudes; nor was he portraying a scene of romance and sensuality. Rather he emphasizes the interaction of their shapes, molded by colours instead of solid outline, resulting in an exotic mix of crudeness and harmony. Like his other paintings, Chang's untamed, quick, heavy, and multi-directional brushstrokes gives a complex and multilayered texture, in this case echoing the fleshly presence of his figures. As an avid follower of Fauvism, Chang's unpretentious and powerful imageries resonate with Chaim Soutine's wild and tragic emotions; his adherence to using black as outline and highlight relates to the style of Georges Rouault. Like Rouault, Chang's works possess the visual quality one sees in stained glass in medieval churches and significant buildings - as if light has shone from behind, colours are reflected ever more brightly through the emphasis of black, further enhancing the vigor and liveliness that Chang does so well in giving to his subjects.

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