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  • Provenance

    Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    Yang Shaobin is widely lauded for his painterly characterization of violence, but his incisive commentary on international affairs has largely gone overlooked. Among major contemporary Chinese artists, Yang is one of a select handful whose mature work shuns overt references to popular Chinese iconography. Instead, his paintings draw on images of Edward Said, military helicopters, and urban explosions that squarely ground his concerns in global realpolitik. In this context, Yang’s reference is to the universal and more insidious scope of violence wrought by our international geopolitical structure.

    Yang was born in the coal-mining Chinese city of Tangshan in 1963 and began his artistic career in Beijing in 1991. At the 1999 Venice Biennale he received international acclaim for his “Red Paintings” that elicited comparisons to Bacon’s portraits. Yang’s portraits, which depict faces and bodies erupting in expressionist clouds of fear and aggression, are all the more unsettling for the artist’s exquisite technique that invites the viewer to linger over the nebulous figures. Yang continued working with this signature trope and also began to paint realist scenes of professional boxers, military undertakings, and covert operations that invoked a more restrained, almost journalistic violence.

    The present lot uniquely foregrounds Yang’s trademark expressionist figuration against a realistic setting. The venue is relatively innocuous—an international assembly, perhaps, or a press convention. Yet the figures looming from their immaculate suits are clearly Yang’s creatures, imparting a visceral tension to the unnamed proceedings. The unspecified agenda of these men in suits-- nominal instruments of power exuding a stench of violence perhaps cognizable only to the viewer—hints at a refined, institutionalized program of domination inflicted by the global hierarchy of media and politics.


2002-10, No. 3

Oil on canvas.
46 3/8 x 66 3/8 in. (117.8 x 168.6 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “Yang Shao Bin ‘2002-10-No-3’ ” lower left.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $180,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York