Jia Aili - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “I believe that paintings can possess transcendental behavior, not empirical behavior. In fact, the most valuable aspect of painting is its ability to transcend. I always try to explain this, but I have never explained it clearly. Like Westerners talk about the subconscious, the Oriental study of Buddhism called Alaya-vijnana is about the order of the Buddhist consciousness. At the point of spiritual consciousness. I think the most important thing about painting is its ability to pull the artist and the viewer in. Painting has a way of producing emotion that defies understanding. So to simply approach my work from questions about history and realism seems to me to miss the point, to reduce it to student exercises. But I am still in the process of uncertainty. There is a saying: 'I am unclear of what I am, but what I am not, I can clearly answer.'”
    — Jia Aili


    Part of a new generation of Chinese painters, Jia Aili’s practice departs from the socio-political overtones of the Cynical Realism movement in the 1990s, towards a more subtle narrative with a metaphysical reflection on the human condition—emphasizing man’s individual plight and existential concern. Incorporating a wide range of stylistic elements and inspiration from art history and daily life, Jia pushes the boundaries of what painting can be


    In Jia Aili’s Untitled, a pale, blue sky hovers above a barren landscape as layered scenes and events emerge in the foreground. In the far-right distance, a storm seems to have materialized from an invisible opening—an explosion left amid its wake. A series of black circular craters scatter across, seemingly connected by a network of abstract brushstrokes. And there, in the center of it all, a lone figure walks across the wasteland.  


    Possessing an eternal sense of wandering and reflecting a melancholic state of mind, Jia’s paintings can be interpreted through a Freudian context, placed within a Dali-esque landscape. As Jia manipulates spatial perspective and bends the rules of temporality, the works function as dreams and memories do—without clear sequence, sense, or form. But within this complex scene of chaos, there is a sense of acceptance, as if this were the way things always were and were always meant to be—and with this, Jia creates a new understanding of reality, transcending what painting is and should be.  

    • Provenance

      Fabien Fryns Fine Art, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017



signed 'JAI' upper left
oil on canvas
132 x 113.3 cm. (51 7/8 x 44 5/8 in.)
Painted in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

HK$3,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for HK$3,556,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 31 March 2023