Lot 1038
  • 1038

LALAN | La lune est voilée

1,500,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
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  • La lune est voilée
  • signed in French; signed and titled in French, dated 74 on the reverse 
  • oil on canvas 
  • 130 by 195 cm; 51 ⅛ by 76 ¾ in. 


Acquired directly from the artist by the present important private European collector


Shanghai, Shanghai Art Museum, My Vision of Paradise — Retrospective of Lalan's Art, 4 July - 5 August 2009 
Macau, Macao Museum of Art, Fragrance of the Mind: A Retrospective of Lalan's Work, 5 March - 30 May 2010
Taipei, National Museum of History, Fragrance of the Mind: A Retrospective of Lalan's Work, 9 July - 8 August 2010
Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Dance in Melodies in Colours: Paintings by Lalan, 25 May - 10 August 2011
Hong Kong, Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, Singing in Colours and Dancing in Ink: Retrospective Exhibition of Lalan (Works of 1958-1994), 25 November 2016 - 11 February 2017


Sophy Thompson and Antoine Chen Yen Fon, Lalan, J. M. Beurdeley, Bangkok, 2007, p. 4
Li Lei ed., Lalan, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai People's Fine Art Publishing, Shanghai, 2009, cover, p. 56 - 57
Fragrance of the Mind: A Retrospective of Lalan's Work, 
Macao Museum of Art, Macau, 2010, cover, p. 71


The work is overall in good conditionVery minor signs of craquelure at the centre left of the canvas is visible only upon very close inspection. Examination under UV light reveals no sign of restoration.
"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

Lalan was a legendary figure in 20th-century art history. With unbridled talent, she was a master of music, dance, and painting. A daring and independent forward-thinker, Lalan never shrank from pursuing her dreams and passions. She was like an alluring spring breeze, opening a personal artistic revolution that continues to ripple through aspects of Chinese art history that still reflect her passion. Her multifaceted identity and broad-ranging interests enriched her pictorial expression and nurtured what she called l’art synthèse—a synthesis of music, dance, and painting. Representative of Lalan’s practice of the 1970’s, La lune est voilée (Lot 1038) was exhibited in her large-scale touring retrospective exhibition and has been featured on the covers of two of her catalogues. Its art-historical significance cannot be overstated.Drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese landscape paintings, Lalan created “inner landscapes” during the 1970’s. In these pictures, the sun and the moon, mountains and rivers, and other topographical elements can vaguely be seen, but they do not coalesce into specific identifiable scenes. These inner landscapes are rather transcendental paradises. Lalan was vocal in her admiration of the landscape paintings of the southern Song dynasty, especially those by Xia Gui and Ma Yuan. The latter distilled the monumentality of Northern Song landscapes into tranquil and minimalist vignettes, implying and evoking vast spaces through partial or obscured mountains and waters. This sophisticated visual aesthetics informs La lune est voilée, in which a textured cliffside is seen on the left edge . This lopsided and diagonal composition pointedly recalls the works of Ma and Xia.

Lalan’s painting is dominated by abstract atmosphere, at the center of which a round moon-like body can barely be seen. Lalan captures the beauty of mist and clouds through the bold use of negative space. She renders the spatial transitions between foreground and background by applying delicate and subtle shades of blue. In Lalan’s interpretation of traditional Chinese landscapes in the oil medium, we feel a distinctly Asian aesthetic that recalls Zhuangzi’s notion of “losing one’s connection to language once the meaning is grasped.” As the artist herself hoped, her work allows the viewer to linger in an ideal realm, free from everyday worries and transported into the sublime.

La lune est voilée dates from a critical moment in Lalan’s career, when she began to present her L’art synthèse to the international art world. In 1971, she mounted several solo exhibitions at Galerie Jacques Desbrières, Galerie Iris Clert, and other venues, where she played her electronic music compositions and danced in front of her abstract landscapes. Lalan’s paintings were often guided by her inner music and dancer’s sense of rhythm. La lune est voilée is the perfect illustration of her synthesis of the three arts. The outlines of the cliff vibrate like musical notes, giving rise to an absorbing melody that reverberates and dissolves through the amorphous blue tones. Though profoundly informed by classical Chinese culture, Lalan consistently challenged pre-existing conceptual boundaries. Her understated pictorialism constitutes a unique chapter in the history of modern art.