Yu Youhan - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • As a pioneer of Chinese contemporary art, Yu Youhan played a trailblazing role in abstract and political pop art. He influenced many artists who came after him, and made indelible contributions to Chinese contemporary art.

    “On a spiritual level, I was mainly inspired by Lao Zi's Tao Te Ching. I only began to read it in the 1980s, but I became fascinated with its basic principles. I hope my works can be like Lao Zi’s idea, one where the universe is alive and continuously changing.” — Yu Youhan

    In the 1980s, influenced by Lao Zi repeated statement that ‘Tao generates one, life generates two, two generates three, and three generates all things’, Yu Youhan began creating abstract paintings. However, due to social changes in 1988, Yu Youhan took on a new approach depicting political and social events on canvas which led to the conception of his political pop series. Abstract 1988-8 serves as a seminal work at this turning point in the artist’s career. Although the shapes still use line segment structure to occupy the picture, a major breakthrough in colour was achieved. The early two-colour yin and yang ‘black and white circle’ was abandoned and replaced with the bright colour schemes of political pop art. Under the criss-crossing black lines, there lies a principle of interweaving and fluctuation of dark brown and indigo, fresh and flexible, creating an endless cosmic spirit.



    Piet Mondrian, Tableau No. 2/Composition No. VII, 1913
    Collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York


    Drawing from ancient Chinese philosophy and cosmology, Yu Youhan persistently pursued self-transformation and transcendence with the Circle series. Abstract 1988-8 only uses the trajectory of line segments to hint at a curve that hides the circular shape in the work. The artist has stepped beyond the limitations of circular symbols, and uses circles to create circulation and build the work around that. Even if there is no clear focus in the picture, the seemingly random linearity flows around in a whirlpool containing endless changes, creating a mysterious space with alternating overlaps and whirlpools. Under the guidance of the artist, viewers unearth hidden laws within the seeming chaos and experience the free flow of life. At the same time, the painting also shows the artist's admiration for Eastern philosophy and his boundless pursuit of eternity.



    Piet Mondrian, Pier and Ocean (Composition No. 10) , 1915
    Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum, Amsterdam
    • Provenance

      ChinaToday Gallery, Brussels
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Abstract 1988-8

signed and dated 'Yu Youhan [in Chinese] 1988' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
87.5 x 98 cm. (34 1/2 x 38 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1988, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and issued by ChinaToday Gallery.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$1,638,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021