Throughout his career, Yun Gee's artistic creations took several transformations and were enlightened by multiple artistic currents. He was first influenced by Cubism, but later moved towards co-colourism, as well as the French Figurative movement and Hyperrealism. He had the ability to quickly absorb the most avant-garde style of the time while also being able to extract its essence, thus producing an original artistic form that could still express his own personal style. However, in the 1930s to '40s, Yun Gee's art were not fully appreciated in the states during his lifetime. Only in the 1990s did many American and Taiwanese scholars, galleries, and museums launch collaborative research on his career and only after many of his precious works had reappeared in the public, revealing the ways in which Yun Gee's art had been a tremendous contribution to the mix of Western and Eastern culture.
In 1927, through an introduction of Prince and Princess Muhart of France, Yun Gee went on a journey to Paris to further expand his artistic career and pursue his "goal of fusing the Oriental and Western cultures." From 1928 to 1929, Yun Gee was selected to enter the renowned Salon de Independence that was seldom open to Chinese artists. Artist Self-Portrait (Lot 1395) and Confucius (Lot 1393) were sculpted in 1928 and 1930 during this time in Paris. The two works represent the artist's attempt to blend Chinese art, culture, spirit and themes with those of the West. The original Artist Self-Portrait is sculptured in jade, the most beloved medium of art by traditional scholars. Though an old fashioned medium is adopted, the completed work has a fully modern feel as the figure's face is deliberately simplified, revealing his fusion of two different aesthetic regimes. As a Chinese artist working overseas, he Yun was able to respect, absorb and meld with Western culture and thoughts.
Helen Gee, his second wife, one described of him having "insatiable curiosity and astonishing wisdom". There were always books from various disciplines on his book shelf, including those of the Confucian Analects, the works of Sigmund Freud, and the Christian Bible. The facial characteristics of Confucius, created in 1930, resemble that of Jesus in his famous The Last Supper painting. In the Chinese version of the Bible, Jesus is called Rabbi (translated in Chinese as Fuzi, meaning leader) by his followers; coincidently, Confucius is pronounced as Kong Fuzi (meaning master) in Chinese. Yun Gee ingeniously related the Western Rabbi (Fuzi) to the Chinese Fuzi by conjugating figures and faces in his oil paintings or sculptures, signifying a marriage of Eastern and Western cultural essence. Confucius is sculpted with his hands crossed in front of his chest and his eyes gazing towards the far horizon; his long gown is fluttering in the wind, embodying such universal values as generosity, a capacity for greatness, tolerance, wisdom and humbleness.
Within three years in Paris, Yun Gee eagerly explored various artistic schools and their modes of expression, which led to further changes in style and the basic elements of his work. His artistic vocabulary shifted away from the rhythmic motion of highly contrasting sets of basic colours and began emphasizing instead line, structuralism, and moodier conceptions. Painted in 1929, Still Life (Lot 1394) adopts a diagnostic composition, in which table legs, table cloth, vase, leaves and wine bottles are laid out along the floating lines. Obviously, calligraphic line is an important artistic language to the artist. Line, too, is the most fundamental aspect of brushwork in Chinese art, employed in two typical ways to express ideal forms: as the tool employed by its traditional realists to imitate physical shapes, and in the abstracted lines that make up painted Chinese calligraphy characters. Colours of brown, bright red, earth yellow and light green are intricately applied as dominant tones, giving the painting with a peaceful and elegant oriental mood.
Yun Gee dedicated this painting to his good friend in Paris, Pierro Millo. An inscription in French is found on the reverse, 'Yun Gee, peintre chinois a fait le portrait de Pierre Millo, qui est au Trocadero' (Yun Gee, Chinese painter. Dedicated to Mr. Pierro Millo for his memory, at Trocadero). Recorded in his journal, Yun Gee said Millo was one of his closest friends in France, "I worked on painting in the day and discussed painting at night. Pierro Millo's home is the place where we can talk about everythingK" In this painting the artist created a warm and cheerful theme, revealing his affection and appreciation towards a friend. The dense composition is full of luxuriant blossoms, wine bottles, fruits, and candies, pictorial motifs as rich as their friendship. This oil painting is particularly painted on silk and mounted on satin, a further sign of its precious value in the artist's view. It is extremely rare to find a painting on silk by Yun Gee, making Still Life, a work that embodies an Oriental world view of man and objects as well as mind and circumstance, in concert with each other.