Lot 1011
  • 1011

Walasse Ting (Ding Xiongquan)

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
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  • Walasse Ting (Ding Xiongquan)
  • Portrait of Walasse Ting
  • oil and ink on canvas
signed in Chinese and English and titled in English and dated 60, framed


Private Asian Collection
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 6 April 2009, lot 556
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Catalogue Note

The Flower Thief
Walasse Ting (Ding Xiongquan)

Portrait of Walasse Ting (1960) (Lot 1011) is a superlative example of Walasse Ting's vibrant painterly voice that situates delicately between bold expression and exquisite refinement. Dubbed "the flower thief" for his dexterity in depicting vivaciously lively flora, Ting's paintings exude a uniquely explosive grace and charm that amalgamate Eastern essences with Western Abstract Expressionism. The current lot emanates a simultaneously rapturous and refined temperament that powerfully defines Ting's works: with surging swathes of color and spirited strokes and lines, Portrait of Walasse Ting is fluorescently vivid yet gentle, exuberant yet self-assured.

 Such a distinctive aesthetic was liberated through Ting's lifelong travels and experiences around the world. First leaving China for Hong Kong in 1946, Ting then moved to Paris in 1952, becoming closely acquainted with avant-garde CoBrA artists Karel Appel, Asger Jorn and Pierre Alechinsky; most notably, Ting was said to have taught Alechinsky how to paint with ink. Ting then journeyed to New York in 1958, further emboldening his artistic voice through exposure to American Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Together with American artist Sam Francis, Ting published the book 1 Cent Life in 1964, which featured 68 colored lithographs from artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Karel Appel, Andy Warhol and himself.

 Ting did not, however, stop at Expressionism. Steadfast in his search for a unique visual form, he subsequently turned back to figuration whilst retaining the dynamic gestural momentum of his abstract works. Executed two years after his move to New York, the current lot hails from a pivotal turning point in Ting's long career: at the early crossroads of his evolution from abstraction to neo-figuration. Only just discernible are the morphing forms of flowers and fluttering butterflies, motifs that would recur frequently and come to be representative of Ting's entire oeuvre. The artist said: "The beauty of flowers rinses the soul, invites melancholy, makes me love, renders me anew, encourages individuality, brings forth rebirth, and inspires me to use color. I've devoted my life to painting to express the new, like the beginnings of spring".