Wang Guangyi - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Loft, Paris

  • Literature

    K. Smith, S. Yan and C. Merewether, et. al., Wang Guangyi, Hong Kong, 2002, p. 115 (illustrated); S. Acret, ed., Wang Guangyi: The Legacy of Heroism, Hong Kong/Paris, 2004, p. 85 (illustrated); Elle China, April 2006 (illustrated); Elle France, January, 2006 (illustrated); AD Spain, October, 2007 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Harbin in 1957, Wang Guangyi is internationally acclaimed as one of the key figures in the history of contemporary Chinese art. His Great Criticism series, which juxtaposes images from Cultural Revolution-era propaganda with Western luxury brands, is one of the most famous symbols of spiritual ennui in contemporary Chinese lifestyles. In 1989, his masterpiece Mao AO, featuring the Great Leader’s image behind a prison-like grid, caused a historic controversy at Beijing’s legendary China Avant-Garde exhibition. Wang’s extremely limited Visa series, created during a transitional period of contemporary Chinese art, is a critical document of the role of Chinese artists on the international stage at this key turning point.
    Wang undertook the Visa series in the mid-1990s, at a time when Chinese artists were being increasingly featured in international exhibitions and were receiving invitations to attend these exhibitions. The artists often encountered obstacles getting foreign travel visas in those days, and Wang felt stinging indignation at this ‘second-class’ treatment of Chinese citizens
    whom he analogizes to the dogs pictured in this series. He chose to depict the Visa dogs labeled with physical characteristics – birthdate, nationality, breed, and gender – that symbolize the arbitrary factors that he perceives are of concern to visa officers. “In Hong Kong, in 1996, asked about the political implications of the ‘visa’ being a metaphor for the Mainland authority’s control over the people’s freedom of movement, Wang Guangyi was visibly angered. ‘The paintings are not about passports’ he growled. They are about visas; externally imposed restrictions of other nations on the freedom of the Chinese.” (K. Smith, “Wang Guangyi: From Mao to Now,” Nine Lives: The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China, Zurich 2005, p. 65)
    The present lot is one of Wang’s extremely rare black Visa paintings and features a Sharpei dog. One of the most ancient dog breeds in China, Sharpeis were prized as companions and guard dogs and even served as guards for the Chinese aristocracy. There is another Visa Sharpei in the renowned Guy and Miriam Ullens collection of contemporary Chinese art.



Oil on canvas.
99 x 99 cm. (39 x 39 in).
Signed and dated ‘Wang Guangyi 1995’ lower left and on the reverse.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £96,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm