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Details
LIU XIAODONG
(B. 1963)
Fishing
signed in Chinese; dated '1991' (lower middle); titled, signed and dated in Chinese (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
76.3 x 63.6 cm. (30 x 25 in.)
Painted in 1991

Provenance
Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
Private Collection, Hong Kong
Sotheby's Hong Kong, October 2006, Lot 1740
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Literature
Central Academy of Fine Arts, Works of Liu Xiaodong: 1990-2000, Beijing, China, 2000 (illustrated, p. 50).
Exhibited
Beijing, China, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Works of Liu Xiaodong: 1990-2000, 15-25 September 2000.

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

While arguably the most resonant effect upon the efflux of burgeoning creativity in China over the last twenty years remains the wide-scale social, political, and economic chaos that was the Cultural Revolution, Liu Xiaodong paints uninhibited realism by focusing on the singularities of individuals displaced by the rapidly changing society of China. In crude but peculiarly stirring vocabulary, Liu's favored subjects are figures, typically of working class people who seemingly live on the fringes of society and are the least socialized, yet as such they represent the truth of Chinese reality without the distortion of an ideological filter.

Liu blends the physical and psychological to prompt degrees of emotions from the viewer, effectively through the heavily encrusted surfaces of paint applied in rough emotional urgency yet in seemingly wet and fluid brushstrokes prompting a forced raw and palpable intimacy with his subjects. His deliberate exploitation on the body and skin to communicate the internal experiences and to capture reality at once is evident in his disruptive smears and bumps. The relentless movement of his rugged brushstrokes is weighed down with a murky overcast of colors, intensifying the metaphoric gestural distortions of the epidermis in both Untitled (Lot 1413) and Fishing (Lot 1395) to communicate a quiet suffering of their personal and social conflicts. The paints are hassled under hasty brush strokes, blending its raw colors directly on to the canvas. As the surface plane is encrusted in bumps and fragmented in palette, it conjures a visual sensationalism that is simultaneously distracting and revering. Liu's affection towards the ordinary folk is clear yet multifariously effective as an artistic societal tool as through snapshots of friends and family, his familiarity with their features and activities enables him to go straight to the heart of a character, relationship, and setting, successfully dramatizing his canvas with political sympathy to reveal them as victims of capitalist structure.

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