Lot 1111
  • 1111

TU HONGTAO | Chaotic Summer

1,200,000 - 2,000,000 HKD
1,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Chaotic Summer
  • oil on canvas
  • 210 by 320 cm.   82⅝ by 126 in.
signed in Chinese and dated 2012 on the reverse


Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Beijing, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Tu Hongtao: The Road Not Taken, August - September 2013, p. 88-89, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Chinese painting has a set of schemas that illustrates the relationship between space and time. What I want to do is change these schemas. I want to use the fluctuation of time to represent spatial relations, as a way to re-organize the image composition.

Tu Hongtao

Presenting an engulfing sun-scorched post-apocalyptic vision, Tu Hongtao’s Chaotic Summer situates in the liminal space between haunting melancholic desolation and beautiful poetry. Folded into the complex composition are innumerable dimensions of temporal narratives from East and West: the dominant figure in white is reminiscent of El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586); the rabbit references Albrecht Dürer; while the pervasive role of trees, foliage and branches articulates a turn back to Chinese landscape. Trained in both Western oil painting and Eastern calligraphy, Tu Hongtao creates works that interweave traditions from multiple visual traditions. In the present work, there is a prevailing essence of the spiritual and formal aesthetic of Chinese literati as evidenced in dispersed vanishing points, indeterminate perspectives, and consummate employment use of linear strokes. The resulting apparition evokes a masterful rhythm akin to a musical score; at once semi-figurative and semi-abstract, the painting evokes a wholly unique contemporary lyricism.

Born in Chengdu in 1976, Tu Hongtao graduated in 1999 from the China Academy of Art with a specialization in oil painting. The artist’s early works in the 2000s reflected his feelings of anxiety when observing the rapid social, economic and environmental changes in his hometown. From 2011-2012 onwards Tu Hongtao reoriented his practice and applied heightened observation to the abstract spirit of Chinese literati painting. Apart from absorbing the works of the masters, Tu Hongtao also frequented the mountainous Bifeng Valley for inspiration, immersing himself in both real and imagined landscapes. Accordingly, his works communicate encounters with nature as well as with time and history.