1051
1051
Wang Xingwei
STILL NO A-MARK
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 9,960,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
1051
Wang Xingwei
STILL NO A-MARK
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 9,960,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong

Wang Xingwei
B.1969
STILL NO A-MARK
signed, titled and dated 1998.3 in Chinese
acrylic on canvas
165 by 240 cm; 65 by 94½ in. 
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

Exhibited

China, Shenyang, Lu Xun Art Academy Gallery, Scholarly Documents, 10 - 14 June 1998, unpaginated, illustrated in colour
The Netherlands, Amsterdam, Kunst RAI, Confused... Reckoning with the Future, 1998, illustrated
Belgium, Ghent, Modern Chinese Art Foundation Inaugural Exhibition, 1999, illustrated
The Netherlands, Amsterdam, Canvas Foundation, Platform 99, 1999, p. 69, illustrated in colour
Belgium, Oostende, P.M.M.K Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Between Earth and Heaven - New Classical Movements in the Art of Today, 23 February - 2 September 2001
The Netherlands, Rotterdam, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Dai Hanzhi: 5000 Artists, 2014

Literature

ArtLife Magazine, Aug. 1998, p. 87, illustrated in colour
Jiangsu Art Monthly,
Dec. 1998, p. 27, illustrated in colour
Inovations Part I, China Art Archives & Warehouse, Beijing, 1999, n.p., illustrated
FUCK OFF, Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai, 2000, p. 130, illustrated in colour
90's Art China - 1990-1999, Lu Peng ed., Hunan Fine Art Publishing House, Shenzhen, 2000, p. 177, illustrated in colour
The First Guangzhou Triennial, Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990-2000), Guangdong Museum of Art, China, 2002, p. 223, illustrated
Wang Xingwei Collection, 
Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Beijing, 2005, unpaginated, illustrated in colour
Cina Pittura Contemporanea, Damiani, Italy, 2005, n.p., illustrated in colour
The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art, Remin University Publishing House, Beijing, 2006, illustrated in colour
Wang Xingwei, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2013, p. 37, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

The work was created purely by chance. I found Allen Jones’ sculptures interesting due to my fascination in both the erotic and the absurd.

Wang Xingwei




A mischievous take on Soviet painter Fyodor Pavlovich Reshetnikov’s Low Marks Again from 1952, Wang Xingwei’s Still No A-Mark epitomizes the best of Wang Xingwei’s witty oeuvre. The young boy in the center, modelled after Wang’s nephew, bows his head while being reprimanded by his father for receiving a low grade – a scene that is resoundingly resonant to Asian middle-class households whilst being a clear parody of Reshetnikov’s well-known painting. While in Reshetnikov’s work the father was conspicuously absent, having died in the war and leaving his son in his oversized overcoat; here in Wang’s painting the father dominates the majority of the compositional scene, donning the mustard yellow shirt that recurs frequently within Wang’s oeuvre. Meanwhile, in place of the mother and sister – the two female figures in the Reshetnikov original – are Allen Jones’s provocative Table and Chair from 1969: clad in fetish clothing and trapped in sexual poses, the two women are not able to gaze at the boy – a stark contrast to the heavily disapproving gazes of the mother and sister in Reshetnikov’s painting. The joyful dog completes the tableau, albeit being relegated from foreground to background.

Other references to both art and social history abound. The boy wears the same red scarf or ‘neck tie’ as the sister in Reshetnikov’s work – the scarf being a symbol of identity and loyalty in the USSR that was introduced into China. The father’s pose, on the other hand, is in seated contrapposto – a direct reference to the canonical pose of Michelangelo. The low height of Chair, on which the father is seated and from which all narrative action of the composition originates, contributes to Wang’s orchestration of a complex play in perspective: the father’s arm and finger points condescendingly at the genital regions of the woman in Table, while upon closer inspection, the boy’s side gaze seems to be pointed in that direction as well. Such a configuration plays on Jones’s scandalous furniture sculptures and the context during which they were created; Jones produced them during the time that the Women’s Liberation Movement first became prominent, with women artists critiquing the ‘Male Gaze’. Jones said in 2014: “The sculptures are trapped in their time but hopefully people are robust enough to see them as playful, and regard them as another way you can look at humanity”.

The present painting was created in 1998; from around 1995, Wang began a series of works that specifically referenced canonical works, creating a powerful connection with the value system of contemporary art. Borrowing and appropriating liberally from Eastern and Western pictorial motifs, and referencing copiously from pop and literary culture, established traditions in classical art history as well as his own works, Wang has amassed a prolific and diverse body of irreverent creations that mocks, delights in, and ruptures the canonical respect for art history. Known as the fun-loving jester of Chinese contemporary art, Wang’s acclaimed oeuvre is defined by a notorious subversive humor that is kitsch, nonsensical and gently absurd, yet which belies a staunch commitment to continuously expand the very possibilities of realism and the language of painting itself. In his masterful weaving of influences that stretch from medieval European and early Renaissance art to Dada and Surrealism, and from Western Pop to China’s own Cynical Realism and Political Pop, Wang constructs pictorial assemblages that are in equal parts cheeky and shrewd, nonchalant and discerning.

Such an intelligently artful legacy was rightfully honored in Wang Xingwei’ grand large-scale retrospective at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in 2013; in the catalogue text, Philip Tinari observes: “In Wang’s world, the most basic tenets of painting undergo a thorough questioning […] His work ultimately suggests that there is still a place for the delights of figuration and narrative, even in a world, and a context, where greater structures of meaning and belief can seem dubious” (Philip Tinari, cited in Exh. Cat. Wang Xingwei, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2013, p. 10-11). In his works in the late 1990s and 2000s, Wang began referencing and recombining images from the growing stock of his own works, composing ever more complex overlappings of meanings, double-meanings, juxtapositions and intersections of various points in art and social history that resound on multiple levels. To borrow Tinari’s words: “There is the notion common throughout art history of a theme and multiple variations […] There is the gentle absurdity of the handling of the subject […] There is the humour conveyed in what is in Chinese called “small intelligence” – the gentle toggling between textures and finishes […]” (Ibid.). Tinari concludes: “But perhaps more striking than any of this is how [Wang’s works] affirm a commitment [he] seems to have made long ago: to the fundamental premise that realism continues to contain possibilities for advanced expression” (Ibid.). Cheeky and impertinent, Still No A-Mark epitomizes Wang’s refreshing and far-reaching influence on the ongoing development of painting and art.

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong