Sanyu (Chang Yu)
- Sanyu (Chang Yu)
- Pink Nude on Floral Sheet
- Oil on board
- 46.5 by 82 cm.; 18 3/8 by 32 1/4 in.
Executed in the 1930s
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Robert Frank Collection, New York
Robert Frank's Sanyu, Sotheby's Taipei Auction, October 19th, 1997
Jia Art Gallery, Taipei
Private Asian Collection
Robert Frank's Sanyu, Taipei, October 19th, 1997, Sotheby's Taipei Auction Catalogue, Lot 13, p.43
Rita Wong, Sanyu Catalogue Raisonné: Oil Paintings, Taipei, Taiwan, 2001, Yageo Foundation and Lin & Keng Art Publications, p.109
Twentieth Century Chinese Painting, Beijing, 2001, Beijing Publishing Group Ltd and Beijing Fine Art and Photography Press, p.160
In Sanyu's "pink phase", the artist predominantly used warm pinks and simple whites in his works. In this painting the artist has depicted a pink woman reclining on a white floral sheet, as soft as a cloud; her arms are comfortably stretched above her head, interlocking at her hands to make a complete circle. Her eyes are closed as if she is fast asleep, deep in a world of dreams; her blonde hair identifies her as someone "exotic", her short hair cut in a style that was fashionable in Paris the 1920s and 1930s. Sanyu uses his simplified style and method in this painting, vividly describing to the viewers the natural, relaxed and worry-free reclining woman. As Sanyu's good friend Robert Frank said, Sanyu gives the women in his paintings a soul, allowing them to move through their lives in harmony and silence. Simultaneously, the artist successfully imbues the Western composition of a nude with the Eastern aesthetics of quietude and grace.
The Chinese principle of 'allowing correct ideology to guide practical work' can also be seen in this work. Sanyu makes no attempt to clearly define the positioning of the floral sheet and leaves the emptiness of the background up to the interpretation of the viewer. His careful use of the brush to describe the outline of each flower on the sheet recalls the literati style of Chinese painting, whilst the fine lines of tonal colour seen in the flowers and their green leaves bring the composition to life. The embroidery-like flowers on the sheet also hold a symbolic value, referring to Sanyu's own background as a textile designer for his family's business, and perhaps implying Sanyu's longing for his home-town.
 Sanyu Catalogue Raisonné: Oil Paintings, Rita Wong, Yageo Foundation and Lin & Keng Art Inc., Taipei, Taiwan, 2001, p.7