Lot 2
  • 2

Yuan Yuan

400,000 - 600,000 RMB
920,400 RMB
bidding is closed


  • Yuan Yuan
  • Untitled
  • oil on canvas
signed in Pinyin on the edge; signed in Pinyin and Chinese, titled in English and Chinese, dated 2009 on the reverse


Private Chinese Collection


France, Paris, Jean-Gabriel Mitterand Gallery, Yuan Yuan: Steam Rooms, 24 June - 30 July, 2011

Catalogue Note

Born in 1973, Yuan Yuan lacks some of the trendiness of his peers but has instead a profound sense of the passage of time and the groundedness of painstaking dedication. In his works, we often see uninhabited enclosed spaces, ruins marked by time, and the remains of once-glorious classical buildings. On the verge of fading away in history, these scenes are rescued from oblivion by Yuan Yuan’s conscientious rendition and represented in the pressing present. In the tension between then and now, stories and feelings concealed by time riotously resurge. As Yuan Yuan himself says, “I have persistently investigated the traces of inhabitation in architectural spaces. My goal is not to show the current states of these spaces, but rather to evoke their past—memories that can neither be completely erased nor made present again.”

Yuan Yuan graduated from the China Academy of Art and lives and works in Hangzhou. However, the idyllic atmosphere of the West Lake never appears in his works, which are rather dominated by a dense and solemn details and a “maximalism”that approaches religiosity. By tackling the enormous yet amorphous passage of time on two-dimensional canvases, Yuan Yuan’s paintings are immensely immersive and shift the boundary between reality and dream. A Home From Home (Lot 1) is one such deeply immersive work. Dominated by a scarred concrete wall, the composition is quietly unsettling. The old wooden arched door dates the space to the early 20th century, and the humid stillness of the air seems to contain still the passions of a past era. An ajar door separates the cold, dark foreground and the warm and well-illuminated background, suggesting a passage into a different world. Yuan Yuan says,“The invisible thing I want to address is time itself. It is what we all fear.”

Painted in 2009, Untitled (Lot 2) is a superb example of Yuan Yuan’s series of paintings of neoclassical buildings. It depicts a corner of an abandoned reception hall. Its refined Sino-Western decorative motifs and carved columns, crystal chandelier, and marble flooring all speak to the lost glories of a century past. Yuan Yuan renders the material details with utmost care and creates a surrealistic atmosphere that invites us to contemplate the vicissitudes of history. This is a ruin sculpted by time and represented in painting.