Since Xu Beihong introduced Realism to the Chinese art world in the 20th century, it had grown strong roots it continued to flourish in the following decades. Realistic painting was the best mode of propaganda in the revolutionary politics after the establishment of The People's Republic of China. After the Cultural Revolution ended in the latter half of the 1970s, the development of Realistic painting in China reached a critical juncture - artists shifted their subject matters from the grand narratives of historical and political events to the personal matters that are concerned with ordinary lives. Luo Zhongli's Father, Cheng Danqing's Tibetan series, and Zhou Chunya's New Generation Tibetan are works that signal a return to the rustic living of the humble people. Towards the end of the 1980s, Liu Xiaodong joined the ranks of the Chinese Neorealists. Graduated from the China Academy of Art, Liu has always insisted on painting in a Realistic style. His internationally acclaimed works are greatly sought after by collectors worldwide. It is apparent that Liu Xiaodong's Realistic paintings are never intended to compete with the objective likeness of a photograph. His paintings is a pursuit of the quintessential feelings of the subject matter - this includes the artist's subjective understanding, association, response, and conclusion regarding the subject matter. This kind of Realism does not end at objective reportage and sophisticated composition. It is a Realism that conveys the inner truth that is otherwise unseen to the naked eyes. It also serves as a dialogue that is spoken in the language of the souls.
Yezi (Leaf) (Lot 117) is a painting of a reclining female nude. Her body is rigid and her legs are tensely extended. She raises her right arm awkwardly and places it on her forehead. This is not an image of a model striking a pose. I t is a gesture of a woman who tries to conceal an inexplicable feeling of restlessness. The room in which she is situated piques the curiosity of the viewer: on the opened pages of the magazine, a cosmetics advertisement with a close-up of the model's face can be seen; the cupboard next to her is strewn with piles of books and magazines; the combination of a thermos, a monitor, and a microwave oven hints the possibility of a confined living quarter. The door of the microwave oven is swung open exposing the dark interior. A cooking appliance placed so closed to the naked flesh produces an intense antagonism. The woman awkwardly turns her face towards something outside of the frame of the painting as if she is evading an intangible psychological threat. Liu Xiaodong demonstrated in this painting a mode of representation that is superior to objective Realism. Through the tradition subject matter of the nude and the arrangement of everyday objects, the artist coalesced the scene into a theater of psychological intrigue.