Lot 1036
  • 1036

Yin Zhaoyang

1,000,000 - 2,000,000 HKD
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  • Yin Zhaoyang
  • Paradise Lost IV
  • oil on canvas
signed in Chinese and dated 2001.11, framed


Private Collection
Rongbao Auctions, Beijing, 27 November 2005, lot 965
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale


China, Beijing, Beijing Art Museum, Mythology, 2001


Yin Zhaoyang, Yin Zhaoyang, Art-w.com Centre, Beijing, China, 2001, p.58
Yin Zhaoyang 1997-2007
, Timezone 8, Beijing, China, 2008, unpaginated


This work is in very good condition. No evidence of restoration 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

Successor of the New Generation
Yin Zhaoyang

Yin Zhaoyang is an important representative of the generation of Chinese artists born in the 1970s. He was a successor of the so-called “New Generation” of early-1990s artists such as Liu Xiaodong. Diverse forms of art such as photography and installation became trendy in the late 1990s, but Yin Zhaoyang, along with other painters of his era such as Xie Nanxing, Mao Yan, and Li Dachun, remained focused on painting. He sought to inherit the unique expressive capacity of painting and explore his own idiom while reflecting the ambience of the times in China around the turn of the millennium. Lost Paradise IV (Lot 1036) comes from a series of the same name featured at the artist’s first solo exhibition in 2001. This series, which helped Yin Zhaoyang make his name, comprises only 13 works between 1999 and 2001 that shed light on his artistic origins.

Chinese contemporary art in the 1990s was initially led by the “New Generation” of Beijing artists such as Liu Xiaodong and Yu Hong. In the years 1993-1995, Chinese artists began to seize opportunities to exhibit their work abroad. Yi Zhaoyang did not follow the artistic trend of indiscriminately appropriating images from popular culture and using political symbols as artistic language. Instead, he turned toward an expressive and figurative style of painting, which he applied to his depictions of late-1990s China. The art critic Zhu Qi uses the term “injury” to summarize the art themes of Yin Zhaoyang and other artists born in the 1970s, and he differentiates between the New Generation and what he calls “Youth Cruelty Painting”. In Lost Paradise, we see a naked couple tussling in the thick grass. The female pins the male’s hands to the ground; the male’s mouth stretches open as he struggles against her. The artist not only portrays the tension between the two sexes, but also creates a visualization of the artist’s frustrations, anxieties, and fears in the capitalist age.

Born in Nanyang, Henan province, Yin Zhaoyang is a representative artist of the 1970s generation. In 1992, he enrolled in the Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he thoroughly familiarized himself with the works of the Western masters. In particular, he was influenced by the recent Expressionist movement. He grew increasingly skeptical of the rigid pedagogy of the Academy, and he harboured an intense ambition to establish his own style. “You possess an intrinsic brilliance just because you are a person, and this brilliance is visible in all of the great masters of art”. At the time of Yin’s graduation, an avant-garde atmosphere was flourishing in China. Techniques such as photography and installation were extremely popular, but Yin was determined to pursue oil painting, and he worked perseveringly toward his goal of becoming a professional artist. Yin Zhaoyang finally burst into the limelight when his work was included in the Sharp New Sights: Young Artists Born around 1970 group exhibition in 1999. Other important artists of the 1970s generation also participated in the show, including Mao Yan and Li Dachun. Two years later, he finally held his first solo exhibition, Myth, at the Beijing Art Museum. This exhibition included three series, Vanishing Youth, Lost Paradise, and Myth, which featured a narrative style that expressed the artist’s reflective inner world. Vanishing Youth depicted half-naked youths under the scorching sun. The series reflected people’s sense of powerlessness, frustration, and unease in an age of anxiety, condensing the mood of the artist’s life since arriving in Beijing several years earlier and projecting it upon the entire era. In Lost Paradise and Myth, the artist applied a more allegorical approach to his portrayals of the general societal environment in China at the time.

Unlike the Myth series, which ruminated on the subject of fate, Lost Paradise sprang from the artist’s personal experience and his understanding of love and life. The series depicts the tension and opposition between men and women, using composition to express the two sexes’ intimate mutual reliance and resistance. Like many of Yin Zhaoyang’s works, the Lost Paradise series has no clear setting in time and space: simply one man and one woman, struggling with each other in the wilderness. During his studies at the Academy, Yin Zhaoyang had been profoundly moved by the Renaissance master Masaccio’s portrayal of Adam and Eve in The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. His subsequent life experiences also contributed to the creation of this classic series. The artist once said, “I am perplexed by the men and women who continuously appear in my life. What are women? Regardless of how passionate or courageous we might be, we are unable to come up with a reasonable answer”. The Lost Paradise IV in this auction is a highlight of this series. Unlike the realist style of Vanishing Youth, this painting has an intense visual style similar to that of Kiefer, Baselitz, and Bacon. Yin’s expressive brushwork captures the violent relationship between the man and the woman in the painting, filled with tension and force. Here, the artist incorporated his readings of Vanishing Youth and Myth, and reflected on his times.

The Myth exhibition in 2001 revealed Yin Zhaoyang’s formidable artistic powers. In the years that followed, he continued to seek new subject material, and his style also underwent further transformations. But Lost Paradise undoubtedly expresses his original approach to art. With its intense style and bold themes, this painting embodies the societal concerns of China in the late 1990s.