(Chinese, B. 1956)
Legacy Mantle
painted aluminium sculpture
117 x 85 x 141 cm. (46 x 33 1/2 x 55 1/2 in.)
edition 4/6
Executed in 1997
Sotheby's Hong Kong, The Estella Collection Sale, 9 April 2008, Lot 1126
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Sui Jianguo is an experimental pioneer who promotes modernizing the artistic language of Chinese sculpture. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, where he is now the head of the Sculpture Department. Despite studying and working under the academic system, Sui persistently seeks breakthrough in traditional concepts and subjects, and explores deep into the use of material and modelling, in order to establish his unique weighty and powerful style in the art circle.
Earth Forces (Fig. 1) created in 1992 reveals Sui understanding and expression of captivity. As the thick steel-reinforced rods wrap the rock tightly and bite into it, the two materials seem to merge peacefully with each other, but there is a powerful force of resistance inside, representing the suppression and contradiction residing in the individual's heart. Another work that also carries the meaning of captivity is Made in China (Fig. 2) - a gigantic red dinosaur locked in an outdoor cage, which sits among a freely moving audience. The auction lot Legacy Mantle (Lot 470) comes from Sui's signature series and is developed out of the captive and conflicting psychological experience. Being the icon of political leader in the age of revolution, Mao suit is more than just a piece of garment, it symbolizes the worship of power, and even can be regarded as a prison garb that represses the growth of individualism. Sui transformed the special historical significance of Mao suit into a form of modern artistic language, and strengthened the impression of an unbreakable political power by using a tough and solid material. Unlike the realistic style during Cultural Revolution, which emphasized the portrayal of individual characters, Sui's Mao Suit acts in a completely opposite way: it is hollow with no figure inside, but the bulge in its abdominal part cleverly suggests the figure of a totalitarian leader, the characteristics and history associated with which arouse the audience's collective memory, thus evoke in the audience a self-reflection upon their own experience and the history of their nation. In coherence with the work Fountain created by Western Conceptual Art master Marcel Duchamp, Sui isolates the impression readily associated with Mao suit, and allows it to stand on its own to facilitate transformation and deepening of concepts, thus proves the approach a matter from different perspectives.

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