(B. 1963)
Golden Wedding
signed in Chinese; dated '2008.6' (lower right); signed and titled in Chinese; inscribed '160 x 80 cm' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
159 x 79.1 cm. (62 5/8 x 31 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2008
People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Specifics: Xin Dong Wang, China, 2008.
Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, Development and Integration, Research on Contemporary Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, China, 2008.
Jilin Fine Arts Publishing House, Chinese Realistic Painting: Xin Dong Wang, China, 2008.
The Chinese oil Market, China, January 2009.
Jilin Fine Arts Press, China Realism Five Years Complete Works - China Realism: Xin Dongwang, Changchun, China, 2009 (illustrated, p. 94; details illustrated, on the front cover & pp. 95-99; painting process illustrated, pp. 7 & 9-10).
Beijing, China, National Art Museum of China, Development and Integration, Research on Contemporary Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, 2008.
Beijing, China, National Art Museum of China, Annual Exhibition of Chinese Realist Painting, 2008.
New York, USA, Rockefeller Center, Realism (Trans-realism), Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, 2010.
Beijing, China, Tsinghua University Art Museum, New Art, Contemporary Art Exhibition, 2010.
Beijing, China, Tsinghua University Art Museum, Porcelain Painting, 2010.

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Felix Yip
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Lot Essay

"To Chinese artists, form is an imaginary form; proportion is a psychological scale; structure is an expressional frame; truth is a spiritual verity." - "What is Realism" by Xin Dongwon

Realism in oil painting first developed in Europe and has been pursued in China for over a hundred years. Born in 1963, Xin Dongwan delved into a continual practise of detailed observation and expressive power in Realism and stripped his works of the burdensome tradition and pre-existing practice of realist painting to create new works which carried forward the traditional Chinese culture and spirit in a contemporary manner.

The proletariat and people living at the margin of the society are the focus of Xin Dongwan's observation, especially the peasants, and minority groups living in the city. The peasants and the working class in Xin's paintings, who are geographically mobile, represent the new social class that rose during which people of diverse values experienced conflicts and contradictions. Cities developed in the speed of light during the economic reform and attracted peasants from different provinces who desired to benefit from the economic development of the country work in the urban city. Yet their inferiority in economic status, education and the rigidity of the household registration policy weakened their social mobility particularly in cities that valued education and social status, and thus left them at the periphery of city life.

Unlike the native realism in the 80s and 90s when artists painted peasants satisfied with their simplicity of life, Xin Dongwan focuses on expressing the peasants' failure to adapt, their feeling of uncertainty resulting from the migration to urban areas and urbanization. A "grand" city is depicted as overcrowded and restricted, unable to accommodate outsiders. A "planned" society is a place where labelled outsiders fall into different classes. Painted in 2008, Golden Wedding (Lot 1396) depicts an old couple who have lived together for over half a century. They appear physically strong and chunky as if being contorted by the pressure and burden of their lives. Thick and heavy brushstrokes render the full-length portrait on a rectangular shaped canvas, an unusual format unlike classical portraits which concentrate merely on the chest, and above. Their massive feet, shoes and their rough, wrinkled skin hint at their living condition; the adversity of working and living in poverty is further reflected by their ragged clothes. The restrained personality of the Chinese people and their inability to verbalize their feelings can be seen in the strained and emotional visage in Golden Wedding. Here the husband keeps his eyes shut, holds his hands and rests them on his thighs; while the wife closes her lips stiffly and turns her head to look away from her husband. Perhaps an argument between the couple broke when each insisted on his and her own view. Discontented as they were, they controlled themselves to calm down. Without any body and eye contact, however, the couple's inner emotions and minds are still linked with each other. Xin Dongwan captures not only the humorous and childlike facial expressions, but also a glimpse into the mutual understanding and non verbal communication between the two. Awarded with the Gold Award of The Tenth National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Xin Dongwan chooses to paint minority figures among the vast population who live at the margin of society to show the living condition in Chinese contemporary society and its traditional humanist philosophy.

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