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  • Provenance

    Aura Gallery, Shanghai

  • Catalogue Essay

    Yin Zhaoyang’s oeuvre is most commonly associated with images of Tiananmen Square rendered through the lens of mythology. Part tribute and part kitsch, the artist’sTiananmen renderings are obsessively imagined portraits of China’s legendary landmark and its historical associations. Yin was born in 1970 in Henan, and was in attendance at the prestigious Oil Painting department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts at the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. The ‘June Fourth’ movement, as it is widely known, was a pivotal event for intellectuals and students of Yin’s generation. The Chinese government’s violent crackdown on the protestors proved an extreme blow to democracy and chilled Beijing’s burgeoning contemporary art scene for several years. On the other hand, Tiananmen has today become the most ubiquitous physical icon representing China in popular media, in a manner that Barbara Pollack describes as the “Disneyfication of today’s Tiananmen Square.” (B. Pollack, “Yin Zhaoyang: Public Space,” Time Out New York, September 29 – October 5, 2005). Yin’s Tiananmen is frequently rendered through an intentionally exaggerated, semi-mythical haze, as if the artist were attempting time and again to immortalize some legendary moment: it is not the tourist- and traffic-packed throngs of modern reality, but rather the imaginary apotheosis of an eternal celebration. “Zhaoyang’s paintings inspire awe in their otherworldly-ness: it is as if memory – in the guise of photographic painting – is being majestically pulled into the present. In his Tiananmen paintings as well as in the Mao works, it seems we are experiencing a refashioning not of the visual world but of the majestic world of fantastical memory. It is a sort of imagining made concrete, with all the solidity of realistic photography, and all the dream of mythology, memory, and the cult.” (K. Miller, ‘Me, Myself and Mao: Myth and the paintings of Yin Zhaoyang’ in Yin Zhaoyang, Beijing and Los Angeles 2007, p. 49) The current lot, Tiananmen, is one of the most fascinating and surreal of Yin’s Tiananmen portraits. It depicts the famed landmark through a mesmerizing ripple of concentric circles that symbolizes the radii of power emanating from the Forbidden City as well as the implicit obfuscation inherent in such power. The sky and square are rendered in unusual charcoal and chartreuse hues that recall the depths of an algae-filled lake at night, or some unknown, unnatural force in the sky over the Forbidden City: this atypical pairing of colors evokes vague wonder and even anxiety in the viewer, but nothing more – a familiar emotion to millions of Chinese citizens who pass by the square every day. “At the beginning of the twenty-first century… it is the China I see today. I don’t think it’s terrifying. Maybe it’s restless.” (Z. Yin, quoted in K. Miller, ‘Me, Myself and Mao: Myth and the paintings of Yin Zhaoyang’ in Yin Zhaoyang, Beijing and Los Angeles 2007, p. 46)

199

Tiananmen Square

2007
Oil on canvas.
100 x 100 cm. (39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in).
Signed and dated ‘Zhaoyang 2007’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£35,000 - 45,000 

Sold for £46,100

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm
London