117
117
Yu Youhan
PINK COMPOSITION
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8,000,00012,000,000
LOT SOLD. 8,880,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
117
Yu Youhan
PINK COMPOSITION
Estimate
Premium Lots
In order to bid on "Premium Lots" you must complete the required Premium Lot preregistration application and deliver to Sotheby's such necessary financial references, guarantees, deposits and/ or such other security as Sotheby's may in its absolute discretion require, as security for your bid. Sotheby's decision whether to accept any pre-registration application shall be final. We recommend you contact Sotheby's at least 3 working days prior to the relevant sale in order to process the pre-registration, and please bear in mind that we are unable to obtain financial references over weekends or public holidays. If all lots in the catalogue are "Premium Lots", a Special Notice will be included to this effect and the paddle symbol will not be used.
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
8,000,00012,000,000
LOT SOLD. 8,880,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Brushwork III – Abstract Masters

|
Hong Kong

Yu Youhan
B. 1943
PINK COMPOSITION
signed in Chinese; signed and titled in Chinese and dated 1987-88 on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
128 by 155 cm; 50⅜ by 61 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

ChinaToday Gallery, Belgium
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

I want my art to be identified with Laozi’s ideas. The world is eternally alive and ceaselessly changing.

Yu Youhan


Flow of Spirit Resonance

Yu Youhan was a true pioneer of the China avant-garde – one of the foremost trailblazers of abstraction in the country and regarded by some to occupy the same importance for China as Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock have for the West. Featuring the simple form of a circle, Pink Composition presents a mesmerizing cosmic tableau that shifts and rotates as the eye roves the canvas – a technically superlative and aesthetically iconic masterpiece hailing from the artist’s most celebrated series of abstract paintings. Presenting ethereal shades of subtle colour, the piece exceptional piece confronts the viewer with its rhythmic arrangement of short staccato brushstrokes, exuding gently surging momentums that overlay each other in a visually enthralling composition. Yu Youhan’s 'Circle' series holds prime significance for the artist, encapsulating not just his spirituality and art but also his philosophical take on society and life. In the artist’s own words: “Not only is [the series] concerned with society, but also with nature and human thought. Everything is contained within” (the artist cited in an interview with Hans Ulricht Obrist in LEAP, 2011).

Yu Youhan graduated from the Central Academy in 1973. In the early 1970s, as a fresh graduate from art school, Yu Youhan spent most of his time painting Post-Impressionist landscapes, still lifes and portraits owing to the restrictive atmosphere in the art scene in which creativity was strongly curtailed. The artist recalls, however: “After 1978, I had opportunities to create works as I pleased, and so I chose to paint things that were completely apolitical and put me at ease”. In 1983, Yu had the opportunity to see Jackson Pollock’s original works in the Shanghai Museum – a pivotal encounter that consolidated Yu’s ideas about the formalist construction of painting. Thus, in the mid-1980s, Yu began his ground-breaking circle abstractions. By combining the spontaneous gestural marks reminiscent of traditional Chinese ink painting with the all-over visual effects of Western abstraction, Yu constructed immersive tableaux that bathed the viewer in evocative auratic presences.

Yu Youhan’s method combined intuition with formal construction, which resulted in sublime compositions that balanced simplicity and complexity, chaos and order, transcending the dichotomies of not just representation and abstraction but also that between man and nature. Such a singular visual quality is rooted in Yu Youhan’s interest in Daoism at the time. According to the artist, his circle works were expressions of “the inertia and freedom of movements in the universe”. Employing dots and lines of varying thicknesses and lengths, Yu Youhan encapsulated the fluctuating yet ceaseless flows of the material and spiritual world, subsuming his being and artistic impulses to the unseen forces and instincts of the universe. In the artist’s own words: “On a spiritual level, my greatest inspiration came from Laozi’s Daodejing, which I hadn’t read until the 1980s. When I did read it, I fell enraptured by the basic ideas within. I hope that my own work can be like Laozi’s. the idea that the universe is alive, in a permanent state of change. If I were to have a spiritual teacher, then it would probably be Laozi”.

Unlike Western painters, Yu Youhan resisted any obliteration or reworking of his paintings, opting to achieve an intuitive “spontaneously progressive part-by-part balance between passages of painting across a canvas” (Paul Gladston, Yu Youhan, 3030Press, p. 36). As Paul Gladston argues, Yu Youhan’s works were “inescapably challenging” in the context of the 1980s China where the iconoclasm of the Cultural Revolution still persisted strongly in the public consciousness (Ibid., p. 35). Edward Lucie-Smith further comments that Yu Youhan was “one of the first ‘Western style’ painters [of the post-socialist era] in China to find an artistic language that was unmistakably his own” (Edward Lucie-Smith, Yu Youhan, 2006). The eminence of Yu Youhan’s abstractions was underscored by their inclusion in the seminal exhibition China/Avant-Garde in Beijing in February 1989 which encompassed the activities of the era-defining ’85 New Wave. Soon afterwards in the early 1990s, Yu Youhan burst forth onto the international stage as a seminal contributor of the Political Pop movement. In the ensuing decade, whilst exhibiting at prominent global stages such as the 1993 Venice Biennale, Yu Youhan worked through a succession of diverse styles, from Political Pop to expressionistic figurative paintings to landscape works that combined Chinese and Western techniques and sensibilities. Returning to his pre-Political Pop abstract style in the mid-2000s, Yu Youhan came full circle from his stylistic and cultural pluralism to articulate a critical ‘post-West’ contemporary art – one that combined political subversion with a rich “spirit resonance” (qiyun shengdong). In following the natural genesis of all matters, like the biological formation of a forest, Yu Youhan’s abstractions allows the natural law and flow of the universe to guide both his art and his vision for a better world.

Brushwork III – Abstract Masters

|
Hong Kong