Yang Liu - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, October 17, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Avanthay Contemporary, Zurich

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the spotlight of a naked bulb, a butterfly rests on the right-hand pages of an open, tattered book, the pages on the left turning as if moved by the wind or some other invisible force. In Black Book 2, Yang Liu employs the images of a butterfly, book and light bulb to express one of the main themes of her oeuvre: the exploration of time. A reference to the “Butterfly Dream” of the fourth-century Daoist scholar Zhuang Zi, the butterfly in Black Book 2 is a classical Chinese symbol of time’s transformative effect on the relationship between objects—living and otherwise—and Yang Liu uses it to compress the relationship between past and present. The flipping pages of the book also invoke the passage of time, but do so without the moral undertones of a 17th-century Dutch vanitas. Yang Liu attempts instead to express continuity between the present and the past by coupling the decaying pages, whose time in the light has past, with the butterfly, a symbol of ‘becoming’ or transformation.
    The theme and iconography of Black Book 2 correspond to those in Yang Liu’s ‘Related to the Past’ series in which incongruous objects such as candles, light bulbs, matches and tattered books lie in menacing landscapes. Like that series, Black Book 2 uses a pictorial language derived from Surrealists like Dalí and Kahlo, but it goes beyond the exploration of the subconscious. In Black Book 2, Yang Liu conflates a surreal depiction of objects with more ancient notions of classical Chinese philosophy and her own instinctive experience of time. 


Black Book 2

Oil on canvas.
150 x 200 cm. (59 x 78 3/4 in).
Signed and dated 'Yang Liu at Chengdu, 2007.11' lower right.

£5,000 - 8,000 

Sold for £5,250

Contemporary Art Day Sale

18 Oct 2008 2pm