Li Shan - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, October 17, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    The beginning of the 80’s, after the end of the Cultural Revolution and before the economic reformation, was the sprouting era of Contemporary Art in China. All the western styles – political Pop, installation, performance and pop art were all rushing in the country. Until October 1989, when I started working on “Rouge Series”, I locked myself in my studio thinking the entire creating process of contemporary art, such as our wording, style, methods, had all come from the west, we must find out own language.
    This period of silence was important to a lot of artists; otherwise Chinese contemporary art would not be flourishing like this today.“In the 1993 Venice Biennale, “The Loughton Candidate” portrait by Mathew Barney was an excitement and revolution of language. I saw it and I was inspired. When I got back to China I started thinking about biology and drew some sketches. From the perspective of an artist, the human language – the body and thoughts are all very outmoded. The tradition is repeated and lacks revolution. I agree very much mutation, it generates new expression and style. Of course, it could also fail -this is the price of it. I hope one day, the relationship between parents and offspring is: the parents make a plan (not necessarily a human image), and produce it through genetic manipulation, the relationship would be “you are my plan” as opposed to “you are my son/daughter.” (Li Shan in conversation with Li Zongtao ‘I have been lonely for twenty years’, Southern People Weekly, May, 2007)

    Concerned with the themes of mutation and biological revolution, the present lot is filled with richly imagined possibilities. This idea produces works that question identity with a presentation -- A fish with butterfly wings extends from a man’s head is the perfect expression of Li’s “plan”; the artist’s progress through mutation; and the hybrid visualization of biology.


Fish as Man (Rouge Series)

Acrylic on canvas.
112.1 x 135.9 cm. (44 1/8 x 53 1/2 in).
Signed and dated 'Li Shan 1999 New York' [in English and Chinese] on the reverse.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Contemporary Art Day Sale

18 Oct 2008 2pm