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LUO ZHONGLI
(Chinese, B. 1948)
Crossing the River Series No. 1
signed and dated 'luo zhong li 1994.'; signed in Chinese (lower right) oil on canvas
120 x 169.5 cm. (47 1/4 x 66 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1994
Literature
Sichuan Publishing Group, Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House, Chinese Contemporary Artist Luo Zhongli, China, 2007 (illustrated, pp. 188 & 189).
Christie's, Sentiments of Two Nations: A Special Selection of Chinese & Russian Realist Paintings, Exhibition Catalogue, Hong Kong, China, 2013 (illustrated, p. 23).
Exhibited
Beijing, China, Mountain Art & Frank Lin Art Center, Luo Zhongli Retrospective Exhibition, January 2007.
Chongqing, China, Sichuan Fine Arts Academy, 70 Anniversary Exhibition of Sichuan Fine Arts Academy, October 2010.
Sale Room Notice
Please note that the correct dimensions of the work should be 120 x 169.5 cm. (47 1/4 x 66 3/4 in.)

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Lot Essay

Luo Zhongli began painting images of peasants in the Daba Mountains in the 1980s, transitioning into the second phase of his artistic development in the 1990s. A clear example of Luo's second phase can be seen in Crossing the River Series No. 1 (Lot 121) painted in 1994, more than 10 years after Father from 1980. Not only does this work demonstrate the knowledge Luo gained during his studies in Belgium, but also his shift from figuratism to expressionism and symbolism. Through the figure form, painting style, brushwork, and colours utilized in Luo's second period, we can appreciate how the artist transformed both technically and emotionally.
Luo freed himself from confines of his academic realist training to pioneer a shift in focus to the expression of emotion in a semi-abstract, semi-figurative style. He overturned the traditional image of hardworking peasants wearing painful facial expressions to one of twisted, raw extravagance with elements of romanticism and humanism. The well-built peasant is familiar yet distant, becomes not only the image in the artist's mind, but also the icon of his creative process. No longer bounded by traditional conventions, the artist vividly expresses his deep sentiments towards peasants through the liberal use of romantic blue and thick applications of dark colours in powerful, energetic strokes.
As art critic Chen Xiaoxin once said, "Luo focused on the fate of generations of peasants 10 years ago. His works spoke for the peasants and delivered social messages. 10 years later he has moved on to a genuine appreciation of the treasures agriculture has brought us. The tradition, culture and values depicted in his works serve as warning sign to modern civilization." Thus, in Crossing the River Series No. 1, a fragment of a peasant's everyday life turns into a touching fable for urban-dwellers. Luo's peasants are posed with challenges from nature, such as the torrential downpour portrayed in this work. With the water level rising up to his waist, a strong peasant man shoulders a girl across the flooding river, protecting her while also leading the herd of cows that trail behind. It captures a delicate moment harmony between man and nature. The work echoes with a caring and benevolent human spirit, drawing the viewer's attention to traditional values that are fading from the modern world.

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