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Mao Yan (b.1968)
Portrait
signed 'MY' in Pinyin, dated '2011.8' (lower right)
oil on canvas
36.3 x 27.8 cm. (14 1/4 x 10 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2011

Lot Essay

Portraiture is a motif artist Mao Yan has revisited many times over the years. He is master of using one single muted colour to produce fascinating tiers of gray to capture the spiritual element of his characters. Mao's expert use of light, shadows and portrayal suggests his extraordinary command of colouring and shrewd observational insight.

The silhouette of the character in Portrait melts into the vacant background. His cold stare engages the viewer to speak to the artist in the language of the soul. Thoughts wander in the bluish gray space. The mood appears calm, yet the piece is galvanised with a powerful undercurrent.

Taking advantage of the subtle change between light and shadows, Mao obscures the outline of the character: its larger-than-life yet abstract. Time stands still, and sheds the constraints of the background to come to its own. The contemplative look of the man is immortalised under Mao's exquisite brushstroke: it's a powerful statement of the artist's lifelong passion for art.

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