HONG KONG - Sotheby’s 20th Century Chinese Art Department was honoured to invite the leading Chinese Realist artist, Wang Yidong, to attend an interview held at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery in support of three important early masterpieces by the artist from an important private collection, Teasing the Newlyweds, Letter from Far Away and Spring Reflections. The opportunity to hear Mr. Wang’s ideas and to talk to him so directly was certainly exciting! During the interview, Mr. Wang articulately discussed his experiences and artistic development, providing a deeply moving insight into the foundations of Chinese Realism. The full interview will soon be live on Sothebys.com and on Sina Weibo, but in the meantime I want to give you a sneak preview of some of the exciting content we covered in the interview.

My interview with Chinese Realist painter Wang Yidong.

The foundations of Chinese Realism have been built upon over the centuries. From this long history, a new generation of artists took up the mantle to develop this genre. In 1994, Wang Yidong and a number of other artists, such as Ai Xuan and Yang Feiyun, were part of the Realist art movement in China, and established a group called “Beijing Realism” with the aim of supporting this genre. After the Shanghai artist Chen Yifei joined the group, their name changed to “China Realism” so as not to limit its geographical scope. Their aim was to publish artistic research and achievements on a wider range of art forms. Today, this group has been active for nine years; with the support and enthusiasm of these artists, Realist art has expanded widely in China and developed into the successful genre we see today.

Wang Yidong tells me about Teasing the Newlyweds.

Completed in 1998, Teasing the Newlyweds was the first group portrait of a wedding scene by Wang Yidong. Rich in metaphor, the warm candlelight and composition of the work contribute to the complexity of emotion emanating from the bride-to-be. The nineteen individuals in the painting each have distinctly different expressions, and yet they are all connected by the happiness and excitement of the occasion. When this work was purchased by a private collector in Hong Kong, Wang Yidong was so reluctant for the work to be taken into private hands that he specially requested Schoeni Art Gallery to sign an agreement with the buyer for the work to be exhibited in the Gallery for one year so that it could be enjoyed by the public before moving into private hands. From this, we can see how special and important this painting is to the artist. Painted in the same year, Letter from Far Away, immediately draws the viewer into the hopeful mood of the painting. Spring Reflections, an early work from the artist’s Black and White Series, conveys the vitality and youth of the two girls and is an excellent example of the artist’s skill.