(Chinese, B. 1948)
signed in Chinese; signed and dated 'heduoling 88' (lower left)
oil on canvas
79 x 99 cm. (31 x 39 in.)
Painted in 1988
Hunan Literature & Art Publishing House, China Modern Art History (1979-1989), Chang Sha, China, 1992 (illustrated, P.12)
Mountain Art Museum, Contemporary Chinese Art Collection (4),The Works of He Duoling, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 1997 (illustrated, front & back cover).
Zhejiang People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Famous Artist, Famous Works: He Duoling, Hangzhou, China 2003 (illustrated, unpaged)
World Knowledge Publishing House, Chinese Painting Ten Duoling, Beijing, China, 2004 (illustrated unpaged)
Tianjin Yangliuqing Fine Arts Press, Pursuit of the Aestheticism, Tianjing, China, 2006 (illustrated, p.20)
LingSheng Art, Literati--He Duoling, Beijing, China, 2011 (illustrated. p12)
Chengdu, China, Sichuan Art Museum, Southwest Art: Exhibition of Modern Oil Paintings and Sculpture, 1988
Beijing, China, China Art Museum, Eight Chinese ArtistsOil Paintings Exhibition,1989
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Mountain Art Museum of Art, Solo Exhibition of He Duoling, 1998
Chengdu, China, Contemporary Art Museum, Gate of the Century: Invitation Exhibition of Chinese Art in 1979-1999, 1999
Shanghai, China, Shanghai Art Museum, He Duoling's Review Exhibition of Oil Paintings, 2006
Shanghai, China, Shanghai Art Museum, Literati: He Duoling Solo Exhibition, 2011

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Painted in 1988, Life (Lot 24) is an important piece following his remarkable The Awaken Spring Breeze. In 1985, after the artist's visit to United States, he began to reflect on his artistic direction. He then decided on departing from Andrew Wright's style of Neo-Realism, making a step further to pursue a more pure, poetic and Surrealistic style. Although He Duoling was considered the leading artist of the Scar Art movement, he chose not to express criticism of society in his painting Life. In his opinion, painting is a way of exploring visual perceptions, of challenging its boundaries rather than functionally expressing the issues in society.
There are no dynamic brush strokes or lyrical colours in Life. All elements are united in the image depicted with greyish brown tone that creates tranquility. The colour contrast between black, white and grey delivers a logical sense to the viewer. The horse's solid and monumental figure reminds us of the rigorous and solemn quality of Caravaggio's style. Life is different from other realist paintings of He Duoling. This image of the horse is intentionally divided into two body parts juxtaposed on the canvas. A child is sleeping on the right side of the horse, while a dramatic chiaroscuro cast from the left. This subjective combination is beyond the concept of time that can be rendered in a two dimensional image. Both the changing of time and the existence of objectivity have been implied by the artist through a series of visual cues.
He Duoling's Life integrates renditions of both architecture and Deconstructionism. As two independent objects which are metaphorically related, this notion has its roots in Phenomenology. In architecture, each individual is reconnected through diverse standards and logistics, as a result becoming something more interesting and greater than the original individual itself. The baby on the horse back fully attests to this idea. With the image of the seemingly dead baby, it is not the artist's intention to explore the subject of death and horror. For the artist's perspective, the baby was just a neutral character who had no gender and identity. The artist considered it a subject for psychoanalysis, attempting to understand the unknowable natures among human beings.
The poetic quality of images has become He Duoling's unique characteristicsince 1980s. He admired works of early 20th century American poet Robinson Jeffers's that praise the value of nature, one that he could not agree more with. They both share a contempt for the superficiality and hypocrisy so prevalent in modern society. In his famous poem The Beaks of Eagles, Jeffers stated that "under the facade of glorious power and gloomy silence, lies the strong and ultimate sense of aloofness. It is a collective perception of sublimity and agony." The artist's way to convey this sense of emptinessin his paintings, is similar to Surrealism and Dadaism. In He Duoling's painting, the ambiguous elements such as the partial image of the baby and chiaroscuro are all examples of this kind of "emptiness", preventing the viewers from interpreting the painting with a logical or objective sense.
He Duoling once mentioned that 'if we feel empty, it is because we are trying to hide some simple truths. The truth is that people are obsessed with good literature, and the same goes to painting.' He would define it as a method to merge the "natural, social, personal, ideological elements onto the canvas. Uniting the surface and depth, creating a great and whole power...' What matches perfectly with his grayish image and poetic modernism hidden within is his brilliant use of oil technique. He indulges himself in the sensitive nature of life and in the obsession of painting, which enables all the divergent factors to coexist in harmony. 'Precision is a matter of individual style ,from this standpoint, it allows the coexsistence of imagination and analytical and logical thought.' He Duoling defines this technique as 'a direct representation of technique is a kind of ideology.' (Technique as Ideology, Ouyang Jianghe) During the vigorous 85 Movement in the late 80s, He Duoling's dedication to uniting painting and poetry has united the experience of reality and compassion of humanity through the artistic skills of Modernism and Classicism. He Duoling became a unique artistic figure in the 80s Chinese history of art for his extraordinary efforts.

More from Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

View All
View All