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  • Provenance

    Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rogue Series-Mao 1 is a prime, early example of Li Shan’s iconic Rouge
    paintings. Li is a key founding member of the important Political Pop
    movement in contemporary Chinese art that includesWang Guangyi and
    YuYouhan. Despite the political connotations often ascribed to his work, Li’s
    art actually stems from a very personal vision that is both more futuristic
    and subversive than it first appears. Poetic and sometimes almost naïve in
    style, the Rouge series transgressed orthodox iconography of Mao as well as
    socially defined gender representation in China of the 1980s.The present lot,
    showing Li’s early use of a primitive figurehead daubed with the trademark
    rouge, is an experimental but already powerful precursor of the artist’s later,
    more stylized portraits.
    “One might imagine (the artist’s) goal being to arrive at a style that was
    more distinctly Chinese, although this was not entirely the case. Li Shan
    preferred to put personal experience before national interests. And dwelling
    upon this experience, the works entered a dark, heavy, almost deliberately
    obtuse phase. Had he stuck with landscape, he might plausibly have had an
    easier time in the early 1990s, but the ground-breaking Rouge series,
    especially the Rouge-Mao works, would shock the orthodoxy into outrage,
    although they did indeed succeed in being hailed as representative of a
    distinctly Chinese avant-garde aesthetic. Li Shan decided that the abstract
    works had been too ambitious for the time, too loaded down with weighty
    philosophical ideals and pictorial elements that pertained to the aesthetics
    of traditional Chinese culture, yet still did not take him where he wanted to
    go. “I felt there was no way to go forward with western art,” he recalls. “I
    needed to work with my own culture. … It wasn’t until I began the Rouge
    series that I found my true personal expression.”
    K. Smith, Nine Lives: The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China, Zurich,
    1995, pp. 238-239.


Rogue Series-Mao 1

Oil on canvas.
26 1/2 x 28 in. (67.3 x 71.1 cm).

Signed “Li Shan” lower right and inscribed “LIS-S9” on a label adhered to the reverse.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $73,000

Contemporary Art Part II

16 Nov 2007, 10am & 2pm
New York