Tianbing Li - BRIC Theme Sale London Friday, April 23, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Spain; Private Collection Hong Kong

  • Catalogue Essay

    More archetypal than individual, Li Tianbing's portraits are a looking glass through which the artist begins rewinding personal memory and examining the human toll of the one-child-per-family instituted in China in 1979. For all the meticulously rendered differences in their features, the children he portrays are surprisingly alike: uniformly detached and offering little hint of an interior life. They confront the world with deadpan expressions, evoking passport and police photos, or the stares of the traumatized and vulnerable. These images look back to a not-so-distant period in which untold millions of people, the artist's family among them, faced extremes of material and spiritual hardship. They spring from society where even the intimacies of human reproduction have been controlled in the name of collective survival; one where, to this day, millions of hei haizi - non declared children born outside the one-child quota - exist without any official legal status.
    Using as a point of departure photographs he has chanced across, or taken himself, Li Tianbing conjures an impression of remembered time. The paintings' surfaces appear mildewed and weathered, suggesting worn snapshots rescued from a long forgotten box found languishing in a damp cellar. The young faces peer out from the past through faded emulsion and peeling paper as though, one by one, they have been snatched from the edge of memory before vanishing forever. It is this solitary status, each child alone in the world, that the artist captures for posterity.


Autoportrait TB Jaune

Oil on canvas.
200 x 200 cm (78.7 x 78.7 in).
Signed and dated 'Tianbing 2007' lower right; titled and dated on the reverse.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £58,850

BRIC Theme Sale

23-24 April 2010