Graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts institute in 1982, Ye Yongqing was inspired by modern Western artists like Paul Gauguin, the great master of Post-impressionism and Symbolism, and Chaim Soutine, the pioneer of expressionism. Ye investigates the relationship between his soul and the world, speculates about complicated situations of living and being, and thus is gradually developing a unique language in his paintings.
In 1986, Ye and other artists including Zhang Xiaogang initiated "South-West Art Group," which was with a view to experiencing contemporary life. Two lots in this auction are Ye's important works produced at that critical period in 1985. Influenced by the early style of Pablo Picasso, Ye's themes include transformation and flat-painted female nudity. Untitled (Lot 1489) is full of green leaves and vegetation. The green tone brings the viewers comfort and calmness. The female sitter in the painting wears a straw hat which shadowed half of her face, suggesting uncertainties and worries. Ye said, "The sitter and the plants are expressing their emotions, or implying ambiguous stories. The sitter's facial expressions show her sentiments, fear and melancholy." In Untitled (Lot 1488), the uneasy red tone contrasts with the huge chimney, symbolising the anxiousness of the contradiction between the enlightenment and the nature.
Li Xianting compared Ye Yongqing and Zhang Xiaogang in 1980s in his essay, "10 Years of Turbulence, The Phenomenon of Sichuan Fine Arts institute." Both Ye and Zhang used symbolism to illustrate the contradictions in life. However, Zhang has devoted more emotions while Ye seems to be more of an observer of the outer world. "He controls various contradictions and confrontations under calmness and tenderness."
The turning point of Ye was in early 90s. At that time, he was seeking every possible way to express concepts in his paintings. In his Diary Series (Lot 1510) in 1992, symbols and signs extend continuously in divided areas on his canvas. These randomly-put fragments break the restrictions of time and space, hinting Ye's sentiments, the mess and the uncertainties triggered off by the rapid development of China in the information Age. Ye said,
"If I raise my hand to stir, the fragmental diagrams and commodities I collected and piled up will be blown away like chicken features, which seem to be never existed".
Since 2000, Ye starts to develop a new series of paintings. Adopting the symbols that have previously appeared in his paintings, he enlarges them and extracts their details, in order to investigate their further hidden meanings. In his work Untitled (Lot 1511), he projected a drawing of bird onto the canvas. As the outlines of the bird enlarge, they start to reveal the detailed pencil traces that normally cannot be discovered under the observation of human eyes. Ye then traces the enlarged outlines, and turns them into many delicate and seemingly abstract short lines. For Ye, it is actually a very slow and complicated way to create a painting; it meanwhile mocks the way in which paintings are created. In Ye's opinion, his paintings are "nothing." As he said, "There is no need to create art anymore. We'd better play chess. Living is an art; nobody is more important than others; Human lives are interactive."