Xu Qu - 24/7: Online Auction Hong Kong Tuesday, July 20, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    “The world moves in an extremely fast speed and its effect has incredible influences on everyone.” —— Xu Qu

    Painted in 2014, Currency War - Morocco 20 (Old) is a beautifully chromatic example of Chinese contemporary artist Xu Qu’s renowned Currency Wars series of works. In these vibrant, geometric canvases, the artist magnifies to a uniform scale dated and current banknote watermarks from around the world, provoking alternate points of view through his new visual presentations of the material.


    Whilst scarcely recognisable when expanded to such an extent, once the iconographic design of each currency is identified, the perception of Xu’s Currency Wars paintings shifts, as an equally intimate yet distancing effect is generated that ingeniously mirrors the power relations money has as a primary driver of society. At the same time, in a similar manner to Andy Warhol’s famed Dollar Bills series conceived in the early 1960s, Xu’s Currency Wars draws directly from the motif of money to further reflect on how artwork often comes to be considered as a commodity itself.


    Andy Warhol, One-Dollar Bill, 1962, Collection of The Broad Museum, Los Angeles

    Alluding to the title of the present work, Currency War - Morocco 20 (Old) takes from the design of the Moroccan dirham banknote, which was first introduced in the country in 1965. In striped shades of bright magenta, burnt orange and off-white, Xu enlarges the watermark into a meticulously painted composition that bursts with warm-toned hues and symbolism, simultaneously referencing the rich heritage of patterned textiles and architecture the country is celebrated for. 


    Moroccan 20 Dirham Banknote

    Whilst the artist’s plural investigations into colour, line, and space nod to the works of Colour Field painters including Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland, a comparison can also be made to the compositionally fragmented Purple Air series by Xu’s contemporary, Liu Wei. Indeed, both artists explore themes relating to the effects of globalisation in their geometric abstractions. However, whereas Liu’s canvases present a macro view of urban landscapes, Xu adopts a more concentrated focus into the symbols and systems that are at the core of such spaces.


    Liu Wei, Purple Air IV-4, 2007, sold by Phillips in Association with Poly Auction in December 2020 for HK$2,772,000

     Xu has been honoured with exhibitions in numerous prestigious venues throughout the world. Notably, this includes his 2015 solo show held at the Almine Rech Gallery in Brussels, titled Currency Wars, and his presentation at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris as part of their 2016 show Bentu, des artistes chinois dans la turbulence des mutations. Most recently, Xu has been the subject of a solo exhibition in Beijing at Tang Contemporary (March – May 2021); Hong Kong at Tang Contemporary (January – February 2021); and Taipei at Each Modern (2020).



    Installation view of Brussels, Almine Rech Gallery, Xu Qu – Currency Wars, 8 October – 14 November 2015
    • Provenance

      Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Currency War - Morocco 20 (Old)

signed, titled and dated ' "Morocco 20 old" Xu Qu 2015' on the reverse
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
158.5 x 150.1 cm. (62 3/8 x 59 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2014, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Almine Rech Gallery.

Full Cataloguing

HK$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for HK$138,600

Contact Specialist

Hin Hin Wong
Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2013
[email protected]

24/7: Online Auction

Online Auction 21 - 30 July 2021