Lot 1018
  • 1018

Liao Chi-Chun (Liao Jichun)

3,000,000 - 4,000,000 HKD
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  • Liao Chi-Chun (Liao Jichun)
  • Flowers
  • signed Pinyin and Chinese; signed in Chinese, titled and dated 1967 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Private Asian Collection
Christie's, Hong Kong, 29 May 2010, Lot 1011
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector


Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan Masters: Series I - Liao Chi-Chun's Memorial Exhibition: On the 20th Anniversary of His Decease, 20 April- 16 June, 1996


Liao Chi-Chun, Cathay Art Museum publish, Taipei, 1981, p. 89
Taiwan Fine Arts Series 4 - Liao Chi Chun, Artist Co. Ltd, Taipei, 1992, plate 72, p. 116


This work is overall 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

The history of the development of human civilization contains rich markers of time and place. If time and place were plotted along a vertical and horizontal axis, respectively, artworks would dot the grid as products of specific times and locations. The true heroism of artists, then, lies in their ability to create a work of art that reflects the times as well as the local culture, but simultaneously refuses to be constrained by those factors. When form and content are selected and then combined in a complimentary fashion, the artist’s work becomes imbued with a singular, personal style. Born in East Asia in the early 20th century, Liao Chi-Chun was thrust into a time of rapid interaction and collision between Eastern and Western cultures, and his artistic works reflect this unique era.
Throughout his life, Liao Chi-Chun was devoted to the painting of natural still lifes, but his style in portraying these still lifes underwent a shift during his career. Before the 1940s, Liao’s portrayal of flowers and plants tended toward realism, the artist casting an objective gaze upon his subjects. Following the 1950s, these same subjects are portrayed through the artist’s subjective feelings and projections, his brushstrokes and colour compositions more free and unrestrained. Liao’s student Li Yuanheng once remarked, “Underneath or adjacent to strokes of colour, Mr Liao applies many thick layers of secondary colour to create an effect of harmony within the bold contrasts. I particularly admire Mr Liao’s use of white in this way.” In Flower (Lot 1018), among the brilliant colours, the vase alone stands out in a stroke of white, as though light is reflecting off of its surface. This accentuates the glossy and sleek glaze of the vase’s surface and its quality of coldness, a choice that fully exhibits the artist’s unique and precise understanding of colour.
Among the numerous formal elements, few can rival the efficiency and power of the lines of abstract expressionism, their ability to convey a feeling of extension, their suggestion of trajectory and direction. Starting from the mid-1960s, Liao began intensifying the presence of lines within his works, but unlike the lines within the Western tradition that convey directionality, force, or speed, Liao insisted upon the simple pencil line, believing that it approached the realm of the poetic. At the same time, the artist also emphasizes his passionate pursuit of “the intense presence of colour with the Chinese tradition.” The proportion of formal elements from Chinese painting is noticeably increased. His previous still life paintings primarily use more similar colours, rarely featuring bold colours that stand in contrast to one other. Flowers not only contrasts the greens in the background and the bright red table top with the flowers in the foreground, Liao’s patterned embellishments correspond with the entire colour scheme. Together, the complimentary interaction of the warm and cold hues and the harmonious balance of their various sizes generate a rich and gorgeous tapestry of folk colour. Liao Chi-Chun grew up in a household of very limited means, the family’s livelihood completely dependent upon his grandmother’s work of embroidering flowers upon the shoes of the neighbourhood’s women. The many years spent observing the embroidering of auspicious patterns and the colours left a profound mark upon the artist. The powerful Eastern flavour of Flowers is directly connected to the colours and attitudes of Chinese folk culture. The dominant colours of yellow, red, blue, and green signify a prayer for blessings and auspiciousness. In these ways, although the painting is a simple still life representation of flowers, within its symbolic colours, it contains layers upon layers of Chinese culture, passed down through generation after generation, subtly conveying the local people’s attitudes toward life and their aesthetic pleasures.