Lot 1019
  • 1019

Xu Jiang

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Xu Jiang
  • Chess Match of the Century: Walled City III
  • titled on the reverse
  • mixed media and oil on canvas
executed in 1996-1998
Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei label affixed to the stretcher on the reverse


Important Private Asian Collection


Taipei, Lin & Keng Gallery, Xu Jiang Solo Exhibition, 2 February- 2 March, 2008


Yishujia Shidai Dushi Jingshen, Lingnan Meishu Publisher, Guangzhou, 2005, p. 11
Dangdai Yishu & Bentu Wenhua, Fujian Meishu Publisher, Fuzhou, 2002, p. 87


The work is overall in very good condition except minor paint loss on the lower right edge. No sign of retouching is found under UV examination.
"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 oil paintings in Xu Jiang’s Chess Match of the Century series shoulder the weight of the artist’s worldview, his sentiments toward the changing and receding events of the world, the cyclical rises and falls. In Chess Match of the Century: Walled City III (Lot 1019), the artist’s subject is the Reichstag building in Berlin. In 1988, when the artist was studying in Germany, China was in the midst of the Reform and Opening Up, extending itself to globalization. Within this context then, every object and scene that passed before the artist’s eyes while he was abroad evoked his reflections upon contemporary history and the state of the world.
When Germany was defeated by the Allies in WWII, the fall of the Nazi regime was punctuated by a symbolic moment of Soviet soldiers raising a flag of victory over the Reichstag building. Behind this victory for moral justice, however, was the painful splitting of East and West Germany. Reflecting on the past and the persistent moral ambiguity of history, the artist’s gaze remains fixed upon the Reichstag building not as he saw it – new and reconstructed – but as it was following the war, engulfed in flames, destroyed beyond recognition.
A chess match is a kind of art, situated in a realm of its own, but beyond all, it is a battle. It is war. Looking back upon the grim vestiges left behind by the violent clashes in civilization, the artist distills his personal feelings onto the canvas using the image of a chess match. He uses chess as a metaphor for the cruel and senseless wars of the world, the chessboard their remaining ruins. In the artist’s chess scene, there are no players, and no pieces, but only a plaster relief of a palm, extending from the foreground into the background, as though at play. The elusive image of the hand appears as the meddling of a disembodied apparition, suggesting that in a war of two, there always exists the influence of a third party behind the scenes.
Xu Jiang imbues this work with a strong ideological force, guiding the viewer into a realm of overlapping time and space, a place that allows for reflection. All people possess the appetite for combat, and the irreversibility of history has given birth to a never-ending ideological clashing among civilizations, leaving behind vestiges that make us weep. Pursuing inspiration abroad, the artist was struck most powerfully by the emotional resonance of the Reichstag building in flames, with only a crumbling wall and fallen tiles remaining. In Chess Match of the Century: Walled City III, the artist reveals to the viewer the results of this cycle of repeated destruction, which serves as a caution against the repeating of our most tragic histories.