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  • Provenance

    F2 Gallery, Beijing; Private collection, United Kingdom

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the world according to Shi Xinning, China is present in all history. The
    artist is most acclaimed for his series of paintings that insert Mao Zedong
    into historic scenes from the 1940s and 1950s. Mao appears in political
    conventions, hobnobs with Hollywood celebrities, and appears with the
    leading ladies of that era on his arm. This displacement conjures up a
    nostalgic desire to revise China’s history of that period, transforming the
    oft-feared, mercurial leader into a ubiquitous, genial personality at home on
    the international stage. As the cheerful, omnipresent protagonist of
    paintings such as Ava Gardner (Lot 231), Mao is an affable, tongue-in-cheek
    character displaying a social facility that endears him to the viewer.

    In the present lot, Manhattan, Shi offers up a slightly different icon of
    historic appropriation: a Chinese flag flying over a victorious Wall Street
    parade half a century ago. The work evokes an odd poignancy and slight
    unease arising from the imagined world order that would give rise to this
    scenario. Part of the charm of Shi’s work lies in the fact that China has
    never politically dominated any of the countries in which Shi’s works are
    set; for example, envisaging the Stars and Stripes flying over Tiananmen
    Square would evoke much fiercer emotions. Shi’s image also reminds us of
    the invisible currents of globalization today, when contemporary China’s
    strength appears not in the form of an ornamental flag but in the intangible
    economic drivers of Wall Street.

230

Manhattan

2004
Oil on canvas.
71 x 53 in. (180.3 x 134.6 cm).
Signed and dated “Shi Xinning 2004” on the reverse in Chinese characters.

Estimate
$40,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $48,000

Contemporary Art Part II

18 May 2007
10am & 2pm New York