Liu Xiaodong - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Friday, October 6, 2023 | Phillips
  • Liu Xiaodong’s A Meeting on the 5th East Street captures a couple’s relaxing stroll with their dog in the streets of New York City, cementing the most simplistic pleasures of everyday life with the most palpable depictions. Mysteriously covered by his sunglasses, the man in casual attire smiles towards the audience, holding a stack of newspapers in his right hand and the dog’s leash in his left. On the right, the woman leans by the door, reciprocating her partner’s smile with her own. Executed in 1993, the present work radiates heartfelt warmth from the most quotidian imagery, echoing Liu’s commemoration of a unique chapter in his personal life: wedding his longtime college sweetheart Chinese contemporary artist Yu Hong in the same year.


    A vanguard of the 1990s Chinese Neo-Realist painters, Liu and his generation of Chinese contemporary artists focused on the everyday life instead of the grand narratives of nationalism and history which were signature to the ’85 New Wave artists. Liu’s education in the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts has informed him of the representational approach and weighted depictions of the socialist realist rhetoric but nevertheless galvanized his innovative interpretation of “realism:” his characters, as exemplified by A Meeting on the 5th East Street, reside in the landscapes and sentiments of the mundane, elevating the significance of a moment as simplistic as an afternoon walk and simultaneously etching into history a snapshot the day-to-day life in New York. At a time when the photographic media dominated, Liu adheres to figurative paintings, conceptually posing his audience in observation of their own realities.


    "With manmade elements, performances, and virtualization, he [Liu] depicts the crossover, intricate meanings, double entendres, and interwoven relationships of reality, which are precisely the characteristics of contemporary society and culture."
    — curator Zhang Li


    Swiftly executing thick and loose brushstrokes, Liu’s unadorned yet deliberate execution allegorically embodies his realist approach: the textures of the couple’s skin, wrinkles of their garments, and intricate details of the newspapers splendidly convey a palpable vitality dynamically welcoming the observer’s participation. A revision on his prolonged adoration for the British artist Lucien Freud, the Chinese artist has graduated from Freud’s psychological introspection present in his earlier canvases. 1993 marks a monumental year in Liu’s artistic pursuits, as he attended the Chinese contemporary art exhibition Red Star Shines on China in New York’s Keen Gallery. During his sojourn in New York, Liu frequented the Lucien Freud exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he acutely observed a fundamental difference between Freud and himself: while Freud’s art boasts rationality and confinement, Liu finds inspiration in passion and action, notably portrayed on the present canvas. Upon this reflection, in A Meeting on the 5th East Street, Liu brilliantly quotes Freud’s close-up angles to his own creative agenda. Despite the exposed nature of a stroll, Liu orchestrates an intimate space with elaborations on the luscious vines clinging to the doors and the photographs hung inside the apartment, designing an immediate yet subtle human connection with his audience.


    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Beijing
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1997

    • Literature

      Liu Xiaodong, ALL-ROUND LIU XIAODONG: 1978-2018, 2019, p. 223 (illustrated)


A Meeting on East 5th Street

signed and dated 'Xiaodong [in Chinese] 1993.8.' lower left; further signed, titled, inscribed and dated '"A Meeting on East 5th Street"' Liu Xiaodong. [in Chinese] 1993. N.Y. "A Meeting on East 5th Street." Liu Xiaodong' on the reverse
oil on canvas
140.9 x 111.8 cm. (55 1/2 x 44 in.)
Painted in August 1993.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Day Sale, Associate Specialist
+852 2318 2014

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 7 October 2023