Lot 927
  • 927

Shao Fan

600,000 - 800,000 HKD
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  • Shao Fan
  • Project No.1 of 2004
  • elm wood, acrylic glass
Engraved in Chinese and numbered 12/12
Executed in 2004


China, Shanghai, Urban Planning Exhibition Center; China, Beijing, National Art Museum of China, Awawkening: La France Mandarine, The French Influence on Chinese Art, 2004-2005


It is generally in good condition
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Please note that another edition of this work has been accessioned into the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK


"Shao Fan: An Incurable Classicist" opened at Contrasts gallery in Shanghai last year, where artist Shao Fan exhibited a series of new work featuring animals. Using oil, the artist created pictures in a style heavily reminiscent of Song Dynasty flower-and-bird paintings. The artist wielded traditional Chinese gongbi dexterously, achieving a potent sense of elusiveness and quietude in his imagery. As if a reincarnated Song literatus, Shao Fan reveals his profound respect and intimate understanding of the aesthetic and the culture of classical China. Armed with flawless technique, he stands firmly apart from his contemporaries who appropriate traditional motifs as mere, cursory symbols.

Shao Fan's mother Shao Jingkun is a celebrated painter and is teacher at Beijing Normal Art University and Central Academy of Fine Art. Born into a family of true classicists, Shao Fan attended the Beijing Arts and Crafts School, graduated in 1984 and went on to create an extremely variegated body of work. As a creative practitioner, Shao Fan cannot easily be categorized. Sometimes a painter, sometimes a designer, sometimes an architect, Shao Fan experiments and creates always with a resolute commitment to classical China. In a world severely globalized and where transnationalization runs rampant, he seeks ways to express and articulate the traditional Chinese aesthetic. In 2008, Shao Fan reenacted a "contemporary" Chinese garden at London's Chelsea Flower Show. The sublimely minimalist architecture coupled with the auspicious arrangement of horticultural elements culminated in a Chinese garden no Londoner expected. Seeking Garden (or a more literal translation of the Chinese title, This is Not a Chinese Garden) was awarded a gold medal by the organizer of the flower show, the Royal Horticultural Society.

Shao Fan has always laboured to abolish the lines that divide art from design in his work. Having been making paintings all along, in the mid- 1990s he was invited by a friend to design a series of work that capitalized on Ming furniture. Functionality reigned high in the beginning of this endeavor, only to be slowly replaced by a pursuit of formal aestheticism and artistic value. Ming-style Manure is an exemplar of traditional Chinese architectural principles deployed in a modern, iconoclast context. Small, curvilinear wooden joints are fit together into a sculptural shape evocative of fecal matter. Impossibly humorous, the work makes a poignant statement on the state and status of traditional Chinese architecture today. Project No. 1 of 2004 (Lot 927) is easily the most important and most popular of Shao Fan's Ming furniture series. Another edition of this work has been accessioned into the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

A flawless amalgamation of the old and the new, Project No. 1 of 2004 came into being out of an utter disassembly of an antique Ming chair, which was then reassembled with the aid of large acrylic sheets. A strict symmetry and a delicate balance characteristic of Ming furniture are preserved here, along with the air of austerity and penchant for simplicity exemplified by its dynastic era. The work appears to be a straightforward effort at arriving at a new visual language by deconstructing and rearranging elements from the past and the present. Upon closer examination, however, one will see that the object has transcended a sheer reconfiguration of space and structure. It has emerged a total reimagining of creativity, successfully obliterating the classifying forces that separate art from design. Project No. 1 of 2004 constitutes an outright subversion of traditional Chinese culture. Acrylic sheets, representing Western technology, cast their imperialistic powers over the old Ming chair, a fitting icon for the waning Chinese culture. Shao Fan has created a work of conceptual art that makes a scathing observation on Western hegemony and proceeds to initiate a dialogue, albeit skewed, between the two civilizations.

Shao Fan's work has been collected by many prestigious art and design institutions in the West. In addition to an alternate edition of the lot on offer, the Victoria and Albert Museum has acquired other works by the artist as well. The Museum of Arts and Design as well as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, etc., have also collected his work.