Yang Shaobin - BRIC London Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin; Acquired directly from the above by the previous owner; Private Collection, Switzerland

  • Literature

    Chinese Artists of Today: Yang Shaobin - Essence of Violence, China, 2006, p. 111 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Much like the work of Francis Bacon, Yang Shaobin’s powerful and often dark canvases lie on the cusp of abstraction and figuration. In this piece, a large-scale work from 2000, two ghostly figures evolve out of a cloud-like shape. The intense colours blur into one another, creating a dynamic and free movement of paint from which the artist fashions the two heads, building them up like a sculptor. Yang Shaobin’s extraordinary talent lies in his masterful use oil paint, which he is able to apply thinly like traditional Chinese ink. The atmosphere he achieves is evocative, even alarming at times, but there is always a strong sense of the works’ painterly quality. The traditional Renaissance notion of sfumato (to shade) is used by Shaobin in an extreme and expressive way, inviting us to see the development from the ‘shade’ to the figure fully developed, reminding us of the very essence of painting, which at a detailed level is always abstract. Just as Leonardo da Vinci described sfumato as “without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the focus plane” (Irene Earls, Renaissance Art, A Topical Dictionary, 1987, p. 263), Shaobin’s figures rely on the tension between figuration and abstraction. Yang Shaobin’s fascinating works since 1993 have a mythical quality, about which the artist comments: “When I began my first series of large portraits, violence would not leave me alone. Since, in 1993, I went through some emotional difficulties, I no longer saw people in the same way. I had the feeling that all human relations were
    fragile; one could not trust in their stability. It was cruel. Add to that the atmosphere at Yuanmingyuan (the artist’s village), the future terrified me. A terror that buried me under its long black veil and prevented me from breathing. It was time for me to hunt down violence. It was really that experience that permitted me to come into my own.”
    (Z. Xiaogang, quoted in Z. Qunsheng, ed., Yang Shaobin, Essence of Violence, Beijing,
    2006, p. 31)


Untitled No. 15

Oil on canvas.
160 x 140 cm (63 x 55 1/8 in).
Signed in Pinyin, titled and dated 'No. 15 YANG SHAOBIN 2000-8' lower left.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £313,250


14 - 15 April 2011