Lot 592
  • 592

Wilson Shieh (Shieh Ka Ho)

Estimate
90,000 - 130,000 HKD
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • Wilson Shieh (Shieh Ka Ho)
  • Go! Save the Queen
  • ink, watercolour and gouache on dyed silk, framed
  • executed in 2007
executed in 2007
marked with one seal of the artist

Provenance

Grotto Fine Art Ltd., Hong Kong
Private American Collection

Exhibited

China, Hong Kong, Grotto Fine Art Ltd., Wilson Shieh: Ladyland, 24 October-17 November, 2007, p.5, 10 (detail), and 17

Catalogue Note

Renowned for his gongbi paintings of surreal imageries unique to Hong Kong culture, Wilson Shieh is one of the city's best recognised contemporary artists. Shieh's amusing figures often respond to his hometown's disappearing social, cultural, and historical identity in today's rapidly evolving urban environment. He is ardent about creating educative works that engage and encourage viewers to be knowledgeable of the city's current events and political leaders who shape society today. Go! Save the Queen! (lot 595) features the statue of Queen Victoria, as her husband, Prince Albert, carries a banner proclaiming a call to action as a pun on the British national anthem – "God Save the Queen". Three rows of schoolgirls dressed in colonial uniforms stand obediently in a row similar to Qing dynasty soldier formations. Each hold a weapon that represents the passage of time from China's dynastic past to colonial rule and Western influence.

The protagonist of the painting is the statue of Queen Victoria, which physically witnessed over 120 years of Hong Kong history since its first placement in the Central district in 1896. In subsequent years, the statue became the victim of political change in Hong Kong beginning from the British colonisation, the Japanese Occupation, and political protests throughout the 1960s to 1990s—and thus viewed by the artist as a meaningful icon of the city's cultural heritage.

In addition to focusing on issues of Hong Kong's past, Shieh presents a conflicting image of traditional gender roles. Go! Save the Queen! was created for the solo exhibition – Ladyland that explored the general theme of females as stronger characters, based on observations in the growth of women in prominent positions of power. As the largest painting in the exhibition, it set the tone for the show presenting symbols of political change in Hong Kong's recent history and the increasing role of women in the modern city's economic development. Here, Shieh illustrates an army that is strictly composed of women, standing as royal guards - a role traditionally reserved for men. In this unusual combination of innocent schoolgirls and violent weapons, the artist adds physical strength to the women, who are often stereotyped to be soft-spoken and fragile. In doing so, Wilson Shieh boldly debunks outdated associations and reflects on a more accurate representation of current gender roles.

"These are elements that are often present in my art: a kind of contradiction and conflict. For example, students are supposed to be very innocent, but in my art they are holding weapons. When I put the two together, a feeling of contradiction is created. The surface of the painting seems very calm, but it's the moment after a brutal killing. It's bringing together innocence and evil, peace and violence. When I use a female character to symbolise something that's traditionally represented by men, I am overturning a tradition, creating a surreal feeling, even an absurdity, in the image." - Wilson Shieh, 2007

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