Lot 577
  • 577

ZHOU CHUNYA | Little Path to Dragon Spring Mountain

3,000,000 - 5,000,000 HKD
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  • Zhou Chunya
  • Little Path to Dragon Spring Mountain
  • oil on canvas
  • 200 by 250 cm; 78¾ by 98⅜ in.
signed in Chinese and Pinyin and dated 2006


Private Asian Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Zhou Chunya, Timezone 8, Hong Kong, 2010, p. 491, illustrated in colour


This work is in very good condition. There is light wear on the edges and corners. The work contains slightly loose stretcher tension. Upon close inspection, a gentle dent on the surface can be found on the upper right corner. Dripping marks and spots of yellowing are visible throughout, all inherent to the artist's original execution method. No evidence of restoration when examined under ultraviolet light.
"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

My paintings are all related to passion and romance. Desire is a component of being human, it's something innate. More importantly, our feelings and desire towards sex are a manifestation of vitality, and they symbolise a life in flourish. – Zhou Chunya

Painted with vibrant brushwork that attests to the artist’s mastery of his technique, Little Path to Dragon Spring Mountain is an outstanding example from Zhou Chunya’s acclaimed oeuvre. Depicting lusciously painted blossoms on the branches of peach trees, set against golden fields in the background, the work is at once an exercise in technical virtuosity and full of symbolic meaning.

Like many of his contemporaries, Zhou Chunya’s early work was inspired by Social Realist painting from the Soviet Union, but this political undertone would not be a lasting influence. After a journey to the Tibetan enclave of the Ruoergai Prairie in Sichuan’s Hongyuan County with fellow student Zhang Xiaogang in 1980, he became less concerned with politics and experienced a shift towards a more poetic practice. As Zhou recalls: “After departing from the experience on the prairie, many of the concrete events receded from my mind. But what remained was the intensity of the grasslands, the thick colours, the purity and coarseness of the Tibetans, as well as the lines that run through these colors and forms” (Zhou Chunya: “I Paint in Oil”, Art, 1982, vol. 4).

Over the years, Zhou Chunya’s paintings became increasingly lyrical, culminating with the peach blossom paintings that originate from this Tibetan excursion. An important motif that first appeared in his oeuvre in 1997, the peach blossom would become a major series of paintings after Zhou married the musician Shuan-Shuan in 2005. During a celebratory trip with friends to the Mountain of the Dragon Well to appreciate the blossoming trees in their full glory, the artist was inspired to turn the blossom into a full-blown body of work. Although he had painted this particular spot on many instances already, this time the location took on a much more romantic meaning – as the artist explained: “I like vigorous things. The blossoms spreading all over the hills around Chengdu stimulated me… I felt the impulses of life immediately” (Xu Zhixiang, Ed., Zhou Chunya’s Paintings, Hong Kong, 2010, p. 20).

Zhou’s blossoms are at once idyllic and lavishly sumptuous, innocuously harmonious in subject matter yet pregnant with provocative sexual undertones – in traditional Chinese painting, peach blossoms are symbols of the feminine and the delicate, and of desire. Vibrantly capturing the artist’s feelings of excitement of standing amongst the fields of blossoming peach trees of one of his favourite spots, Little Path to Dragon Spring Mountain is a masterful example from one of the Zhou Chunya’s most important bodies of work.