Zao Wou-Ki masterpiece to lead Sotheby's HK 20th century Chinese Art auction

Zao Wou-Ki’s masterpiece 25.06.86 will lead the Sotheby's HK auction of 20th century Chinese Art on Apr 2. This 1986 work, with an estimate of $2.3-3.6 million, was acquired by a European private collection decades ago, and makes its debut on the market. Created at the height of Zao’s international fame in the 1980s, the painting captured the artist’s ease in following his instincts and his sensitive and confident application of colours and brushstrokes. This vertically-aligned tripartite composition is inspired by traditional Chinese landscape painting with dark purples
suspended in mid-air placed side by side with deep azure, juxtaposed with vaporous, light grey hues resembling a waterfall.

The April 2 auction will offer more than 140 lots at a total estimate of $20.5 million

Another highlight of the sale will be Wu Guangzhong’s Victoria Falls dating from the pinnacle of his oil painting career in the 1970s. The artist made two similar canvasses featuring waterfalls in 1975, one entitled Victoria Waterfall and the other, Victoria Falls, is currently on offer. Here the depiction of flowing water within the setting is adroit. For example, at the bottom left-hand corner, Wu Guanzhong applies greyish-white shades with great skill, his quick, powerful multi-layered brushstrokes capturing the powerful downward gush along with splashes of foam, distinguishing features that differentiate this painting from the other.

The sale will also highlight Realism masters like Chen Yifei who established his international reputation in the mid-1980s, promoted by New York’s Hammer Gallery and Marlborough Gallery respectively. Completed in 1999, Lonely Girl was immediately acquired by a private European collector from the Marlborough Gallery.

The late Chen Yifei constantly challenged himself to surpass conventions within the realm of realism, applying his talents in filmmaking beginning in 1993. In this work, he adopted close-up technique and distorted perspective to accentuate a lonely young woman and her surroundings, capturing her solitary, deeply contemplative state of mind through dramatic treatment and tension. The painter createc a moving portrait that far surpasses realist conventions.

Morning Mist in Mengshan is a recent work by Wang Yidong , completed only last year. This
canvas depicts intimate lovers in a misty, mountainous setting. The young woman appears sweet
and innocent; the newly ripened peaches in her left hand match her slightly blushed cheeks. The man behind is down-to-earth and muscular. Deep in thought, the woman leans against her lover holding a small mirror in her right hand. The man might appear unrefined, yet he is carefully braiding her hair. On the whole, Morning Mist in Mengshan seeks to elevate raw beauty and spiritual aesthetics to a higher philosophical level. The artist is highly sought after and competition for this work is likely to be strong.

For the first time, Sotheby's has added a section that focuses on China/Hong Kong/Taiwan photographic art with artists like Lang Jingshan, Taiwan’s “Three Musketeer Photographers” Chang Tsai, Deng Nan-Guang and Lee Ming-tiao, Hong Kong’s Tchan Fou-Li (Chen Fuli) and Leo K.K. Wong, and China’s Zhang Yiquan and Sun Mingjing. Works offered in this sale date from the 1940s to the present day; they contain street scenes of old Shanghai, grand landscape and beautiful figures.