Fang Lijun - BRIC Theme Sale London Friday, April 23, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie de France, Paris

  • Exhibited

    Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Fang Lijun, from Beijing to Amsterdam and Back, February – March 1998

  • Literature

    Fang Lijun, Changha, Hunan: Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in 1963 at the height of Chairman Mao's reign, Fang Lijun grew up despising the false utopian ideals promised by a regime he saw as being inherently flawed. He suffered particular hardship when he was forced, under Mao's program of rectification, to denounce his own once-prosperous grandfather. As an escape from the harsch realities of the Cultural Revolution, Fang began drawing cynical cartoons of China's past and present leaders. However, it was not until 1955-several years after the end of the Cultural Revolution and Chairman Mao's death-that the properly enrolled in art school, studying printmaking at the Central Academy in Beijing. Here, he developed his stylized, instantly recognizable theme of shaven-headed men and woman wearing peasant clothing and 1999-while still a student-participated in the groundbreaking exhibition of Chinese contemporary art, China/Avant-Garde. By the early 1990s; Fang had become the leading proponent of China's Cynical Realism movement and, with the critical acclaim awarded him at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, his arrival on the international art scene was confirmed. While Fang Lijun's early oeuvre can be read as deeply pessimistic, satirizing and parodying the destructive policies of Mao's totalitarian regime, his more recent canvases offer an optimistic outlook for the Chinese people, hinting at a better future.
    The present lot comes from a significant series in Fang's oeuvre, Swimmer. Started in the late 1990s, the works always depict a lone swimmer ploughing across vast expanses of water, sometimes breaking the surface to gasp for air. This solitary figure is often interpreted as the Chinese Everyman's introspective struggle for survival amid a merciless tide of societal change, at a time when China is undergoing rapid economic and cultural transformation.


Untitled No. 16

Colour woodcut on paper on 3 scrolls.
Each: 244 x 122 cm (96 x 48 in) ; overall: 244 x 366 cm (96 x 144 1/8 in).
Signed in Chinese, titled and dated 'Fang Lijun 1996 NO 16' and numbered of 2. This work is from an edition of 2.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £85,250

BRIC Theme Sale

23-24 April 2010