Lot 030 Ravenel Autumn Auction 2023
Portrait of Stool
WANG Huaiqing (Chinese, 1944)
Oil on canvas
131 x 145.5 cm
Ravenel Spring Auction 2006, Taipei, lot 73
Ravenel Autumn Auction 2008, Hong Kong, lot 135
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Wang Huai Qing, Wang Huaiqing published, Beijing, 2004, color illustrated, no. 114
Wang Huaiqing's teacher was the Chinese master artist Wu Guanzhong, but the creative style he developed was completely different from that of his teacher. There's a sense of the profound in his works, filling the tranquility and elegance with visual tension. The renowned Chinese art critic Jia Fangzhou made this comment about Wang Huaiqing's works: "When examined from a philosophical perspective, Wang Huaiqing has chosen to travel on an extremely rarefied and exact path. In the treatment of planes, we see the depth of space; within the expression, figurative abstractionism can be found; in the sensual illusions, principles of reason and; in the Western techniques of expression and the cultural sensitivities of the East. Traditional Chinese art has always emphasized the structure. From the spatial layout of the building, the composition of the painting, the framework of calligraphy, the contrast between ink and space of seal scripts through to the hollow spaces of the common paper-cut and more, all approach the subject matter with an eye to its structure. In Wang Huaiqing's work, these traditional elements have been given a creative modern transformation to become the main themes of his own style."
In this restless world, the artist creates a quiet corner of reminiscence. Wang gets his materials from the folk crafts, and makes a modern classic work of his own style. "Portrait of Stool" finished in 1999, is one of Wang's favorites. The main character is a simple old stool. The shape of this old piece of furniture is distorted into geometric patterns, a coexistent form of round and square. The lonely counterpart looks like the face painted in the Chinese Opera-easy but independent; it tells its own story. Replacing the original wooden color, the ink color turns its functionality into a pure structure with a minimal abstract beauty. Yet, in that mottled background, the stool conveys a reminiscent atmosphere. Wang is always good at composing a picture, which gives the beholder an association of stage. He presents a time gaze and an empty stage in his paintings; he lets the beholders become ill in the stories which are once performed on stage.
Why does he choose the Ming-style furniture as his characters? Wang answered, "I want to paint something which reverses the order of life and a lifeless object as well as the main and the subordinate characters. Sometimes, I feel that no matter how glorious and luxurious a person once lived, life itself is still very fragile. Very often, it cannot last longer than a piece of furniture. I just feel that a lifeless object is closer to me than a human being." After 1990, the Ming-style furniture has become the main character in the paintings of the artist from Beijing. His furniture sometimes presents a simple and distorted shape, and sometimes it just falls apart and gives a feeling of loneliness and loss.
The black structure in "Portrait of Stool" contains the power of the stele-style calligraphy. Its silhouette-like composition also narrates a profound meaning. An ancient stool enlarged by the artist brings out an imaginary space of the life of a Chinese intellectual. It also inhabits the passion of a contemporary artist to present the culture of his nation to the world.
Select: Modern & Contemporary Art
Ravenel Autumn Auction 2023
Saturday, December 2, 2023, 4:00pm