Lot 812
  • 812

Chow Chun Fai

55,000 - 75,000 HKD
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  • Chow Chun Fai
  • Shaolin Soccer - "Everyone knows that Fung is so famous"
  • enamel on canvas
signed in Chinese and English and dated 2008 on the reverse


Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
Acquired by the present owner from the above


This work is generally in good condition. There are hairline craquelures scattered across the painting which is inherent to the artist's working method and medium. Please note that it was not examined under ultraviolet light.
"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

Art and the City

Hong Kong has produced a unique group of artists whose different approaches yield disparate works. It is futile to categorise them because their very individuality is what is valuable in Hong Kong art.

A pioneer of Hong Kong art, Lui Chun Kwong has taught for twenty-five years in the Fine Arts Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). After returning to Hong Kong from the United Kingdom, he began to focus on his abstract landscape series, using straight linesto express the flow (qi) in Chinese landscape paintings--returning to Eastern aesthetics through a Western means of expression. Lui says, “My works are neither explorations of concepts nor expressions of emotions.” Indeed, his pursuit of the metaphysical realm is akin to the traditional Chinese literati. Landscape Series No. 0008 (Lot 810) from 1999 is a highly representative work. The harmony and tension formed by the multicoloured vertical lines complete an entirely abstract landscape. Unlike his increasingly smooth styles of recent years, this painting displays a much more expressionistic treatment of colours, and is thus very precious.

Born in 1980, Chow Chun Fai is an outstanding representative of young Hong Kong artists. Shaolin Soccer- “Everyone knows that Fung is so famous” (Lot 812) is part of Chow’s renowned Painting on Movies series. Its key lies in appropriating passages from Hong Kong movies and thereby reconstructing the nature of art as well as the image of Hong Kong. Such appropriation from popular culture is akin to the American Pop Art of the 60’s and 70’s, and Chow may well be considered a pioneer of Hong Kong Pop Art. In content, the series excerpts many suggestive verbal and visual passages. A classic within the series, the lot on offer is based on a line from the famous Hong Kong film personality Stephen Chow’s “Shaolin Soccer”: “Everyone knows that Fung is so famous in the stock exchange market.” Full of hyperbole and flattery, this sentence typifies the habitus of Hong Kong’s common man and captures the essence of its local culture.

The young artist Sarah Lai has established an individual style with her pale, subtle colours and the light touch of her brush. Her multilayered painting creates a psychological distance between work and viewer, at once familiar and vague, like scenes from memory. Landscape No.1 (Lot 811) is a rare piece from 2007. Two visual frames appear on a rectangular canvas, showing street lamps and two segments of a footbridge. It was created for the “Copied Right” show at Para/Site Art Space, which explored concepts such as positive and negative, copies and representations. These concepts inspired the artist to present in the work two different places in the city at the same time. The street lamps are posed as if engaged in conversation, allowing us to glimpse into the artist’s exploration of psychological landscape that continues into her later creations.

Veteran artist Kum Chi Keung frequently explores in his works the paradoxical concepts of “birdcage” and “flight.” The omnipresent birdcages in Hong Kong are symbols of the city’s congested living culture. The juxtaposition of birdcages and flight further acquires a clear political significance around the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China. The sculpture Bamboo (Lot 813) refers to the artist’s meditations on freedom. Here the symbolism of the birdcage is expanded to cover Hong Kong’s public and private spaces. One small birdcage after another is stacked inside a vertical, transparent acrylic pillar, referencing to the commercial skyscrapers of Hong Kong, behind whose shiny surfaces are actually tiny birdcages. With Bamboo, Kum satirises the unreality of urban culture as well as its excessive emphasis on appearances.