Opening - Sotheby's presents Treasures of a Century

Sotheby’s will hold a special exhibition Oct 2-7 in Hong Kong showcasing 20 important masterpieces to celebrate the legacy of 20th Century Chinese artists. Treasures of the Century is intended as an educational and inspirational exhibition and it is the first time that the auction house has organised an exhibition dedicated to the preeminent modern Chinese artists. The paintings in this exhibition were largely inspired by the experiences of Chinese artists when, in the early 20th century, they travelled abroad to Europe and Japan and immersed themselves in these new cultures. The impact of these external influences, in tandem with the traditional aesthetics of their Chinese roots, allowed these artists to forge new and exciting painting styles. Important artists whose works will be featured include Sanyu, Xu Beihong, Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang, Chao Chung-hsiang and Yun Gee, amongst others.
Five Female Nudes by Sanyu (Changyu), who immigrated to Paris in 1921 and remained there until his death in 1966, is archetypical of Sanyu’s uniquely sensuous style, informed by Henri Matisse’s simple yet voluptuous female forms. Sanyu painted these five nudes with a lucid honesty that would have shocked conservative Chinese society at the time. The relaxed nonchalance of his bold and beautiful women is echoed in the playfully reclining cat on the lower right of the composition.

Storm of Roses by Chao Chung-hsiang (1910-1991) juxtapose the aesthetics and philosophies of two cultures. Chao went to Taiwan, Spain and New York where, in the 1960s, he encountered abstract expressionism. Storm of Roses achieves the cerebral feel of intuitive brushwork, a technique famously used by Jackson Pollock. It features Chao Chung-hsiang’s trademark motif of circles and pop-art colours, whilst his overlapping brushstrokes are informed by the styles of Chinese calligraphy.

The Forbidden City by Kuo Po-chuan (Guo Bochuan) (1901-1974) uses passionate reds and lush, vivid greens to evoke both power and softness, reflecting the artist’s fondness for the city and its rich history. This work has a painterly quality inspired by the works of Renoir, but is also represent well Chinese pride.