Chen Yifei:Oil, Crouching Lady
Lot 817
Chen Yifei (1946-2005) Reclining Woman with Fan
Sold for HK$ 4,700,000 (US$ 605,872) inc. premium

Lot Details
Chen Yifei (1946-2005) Reclining Woman with Fan Chen Yifei (1946-2005) Reclining Woman with Fan Chen Yifei:Oil, Crouching Lady Chen Yifei:Oil, Crouching Lady Chen Yifei:Oil, Crouching Lady
Chen Yifei (1946-2005)
Reclining Woman with Fan
Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Chen Yifei in English and Chinese
Circa 1996
With a label of Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd on the reverse, No. 309661
With Chen Yifei Estate's stamp, CYE/RC/No.7, on the reverse
130cm x 155cm (51¼in x 61in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Chen Yifei Estate, CYE/RC/No.7
    Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd
    A British private collector, acquired in October 2006

    Exhibited: Chen Yifei: Hommage à Chen Yifei 1946-2005, Marlborough Monaco, 19 April to 15 June 2007

    Published: Chen Yifei: Hommage à Chen Yifei 1946-2005, Marlborough Monaco, 2007, p.18, plate 11

    陳逸飛 斜臥的持扇美人 油彩畫布 木框 約一九九六年作

    簽名:Chen Yifei 陳逸飛
    背面附有倫敦瑪勃洛畫廊標籤,編號309661
    背面鈐有「陳逸飛的遺產」專用印章,編號CYE/RC/No.7

    來源:
    陳逸飛的遺產 CYE/RC/No.7
    倫敦瑪勃洛藝術公司
    英國私人收藏家於2006年10月購自瑪勃洛

    展覽:「陳逸飛:向陳逸飛致敬 1946-2005」,摩納哥瑪勃洛畫廊,2007年4月19日至6月15日

    出版:《陳逸飛:向陳逸飛致敬 1946-2005》,摩納哥瑪勃洛畫廊出版,2007年,頁18,圖版11

    Thin mist, dense clouds, sad I stay.
    In the golden censer, the burning incense is dying away.
    Festival time, again the Double Ninth.
    Alone I remain behind the silken curtains on a jade pillow,
    Feeling the midnight chill first penetrates.
    Drinking wine by the East Hedges at dusk,
    A furtive fragrance fills my sleeve.
    Do not say my spirit is not worn,
    When curtains furl in the west wind,
    I am more fragile than the chrysanthemum.
    -- Tipsy Under the Flowers on Double Ninth by Li Qingzhao

    Characterised by soft lines as well as dark and dense colours, Chen Yifei's paintings have been praised by the media in the west as a style of 'romantic realism', always revealing a strong Chinese sensibility in a perfect blend of western artistic techniques. Chen shared, in a 1997 interview, that since the 1960s, he had started reading poetry of the Tang and Song periods, after gaining an insight that poetry and painting originate from the same source. His favourite was Li Qingzhao, evident in many of his paintings that were inspired by her verses. (See Susu, 'Cultural Noble: Chen Yifei', originally published in New Modern Art Times, 1999, June issue.) With a poetic, dream-like quality, 'Reclining Woman with Fan' which was executed in 1996, is an important work of his 'Old Dreams of Shanghai' series. By means of his classic sfumato (blurring) technique, the artist portrays a demurely elegant lady dressed in qipao holding a fan. She reclines by the golden embroidered pillow, as if on the verge of rising; in her somber gaze there is a hint of melancholy filled with subtle beauty, not lacking in quiet resolution. Filled with emotional intensity, this work recalls the mood in Tipsy Under the Flowers on Double Ninth written by Song dynasty 'delicate restraint' poetess Li Qingzhao.

    Chen Yifei sets the tone of 'Reclining Woman with Fan' as classic and quiet by means of skillful composition. In the form of an asymmetrical triangle, the work has an enduring and reticent quality. Through tonal contrasts and the use of the golden ratio, the visual focus lies in the face of the fan-holding beauty, which serves as the focal point of communication between the work and the viewer. The facial expression of this enigmatic, glacial beauty is cold as frost, as if haunted by a troubled past or a reflection of her life experiences that triggers the viewer's imagination. Reclining on the floor, her left elbow bends into an elegant perpendicular. She leans forward, extending her arms to form a crescent-like shape. The floral patterned fan mirrors her face, expressing a sense of emotional stability while injecting vigor and visual tension into the scene.

    Chen deploys the infectious visual language of light to create an ambiance of romance and mysterious exaltation. From the upper right, a stream of artificial light illuminates the lady's facial features, and shines on her exquisite robe of gold, green and burgundy hues, forming delicate and graceful creases. The dark-coloured carpet patterned with central medallions as well as the simple, dim background further accentuate his meticulous lighting arrangement, lending a sculptural and theatrical effect to the figure. Celebrated for the classicism and the majesty of a single moment frozen in time, this painting is reminiscent of the famous work 'Danae' by 17th century Dutch master, Rembrandt van Rijn (see illustrated).

    Chen Yifei once said, "the beauty of women lies in paintings." From the late 1980s, he started to create a series of works featuring graceful women in traditional Chinese attire. The first step of figural drawing is the selection of suitable models to represent an artist's particular imagery; for Chen, he had always adhered to his canons of female beauty: elegance and extravagance. From the model Chen Wenyun in his oil work 'Waiting for the Rising Moon in the Western Chamber' to Wen Xiaorong in 'Poppy', Dong Xian in 'Gazing out of the Window', Ye Jihong in 'Fan', then to Song Meiying in 'In the Night Club' (the latter becoming his wife), all of them exude beauty and glamourous sophistication. The lady shown in the present lot 'Reclining Woman with Fan' is said to be a well-known model, Chen Juanhong, whom Chen Yifei previously acknowledged to be "the best female model." (See Yang Changxun, Visual Life: The Biography of Chen Yifei, Shanghai Bookstore Publishing House, 2006, p. 110.) For another work modelled by Chen Juanhong, see 'Listening to Birds Song' (Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3rd October 2011, Lot 776).

    If Chen's 'Musician' series, created in the 1980s, is regarded as pioneering in the oil portrayal of the female musician theme, then 'Reclining Woman with Fan', representative of his 'Old Dreams of Shanghai' series, can be seen as a more profound cultural exploration of the female subject in the 1990s, also an artistic elevation. To explore the ethos and culture of old Shanghai, Chen travels back in time to the 1930s. He once said, "Putting aside the differences in time, I endeavour to present the vestiges of ancient Chinese culture. The robes (worn by my models) are traditional, but their faces are modern. I wish to convey an impression of orientalism, not just a picture of beauties, but a cultural representation." (See Wang Manping, 'Breathtaking Xunyang', published in Jiang Zuxuan ed., Chen Yifei: The Legend, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, Changsha, 1999, p.156.) From this perspective, through his silhouettes of ethereal women in private quarters in the Republican-era Shanghai, Chen intensifies his pursuit of romanticism and nostalgia. Indeed, by reviving the old glory of Shanghai's bygone days and its humanistic spirit, Chen presents the artistic essence of a period of Chinese cultural history.

    薄霧濃雲愁永晝,瑞腦消金獸。佳節又重陽,玉枕紗櫥,半夜涼初透。
    東籬把酒黃昏後,有暗香盈袖。莫道不消魂,簾捲西風,人比黃花瘦。
    ——李清照《醉花陰 · 重陽》

    柔和的線條,低沉的色調,被西方媒體譽為浪漫寫實主義的陳逸飛繪畫,在完美融合西方繪畫技巧的同時,總是流露出一抹濃郁的中國韻味。1997年,陳逸飛在一次訪談中說,因為認識到詩畫同宗的關係,自60年代起他就開始讀中國的唐詩宋詞,「最喜歡李清照,後來有好幾幅畫的意境都出自她的詞。」(參見素素〈文化貴族:陳逸飛〉,原載《新現代畫報》1999年6月號。)此幅創作於約1996年的〈斜臥的持扇美人〉,如詩如夢,正是陳逸飛「海上舊夢」系列中頗具代表性的重要作品。藝術家以經典的暈塗手法,生動傳神地描繪了一位身著旗袍、雍容典雅的持扇美人,斜臥在金色的繡花枕邊,似乎正意欲起身;她那神情黯然的雙眸中,透出一縷淡淡的哀愁,柔美而不乏堅韌。作品中蘊含著深厚的內在情感,令人憶起宋代婉約派女詞人李清照筆下《醉花陰》的意境。

    畫作中,陳逸飛運用巧妙的構圖,給〈斜臥的持扇美人〉確定了古典而寧靜的基調。斜臥的美人構成一個不對稱三角形,表現出一種穩定感和靜謐感。借助於明暗對比和黃金分割,視覺中心被置於持扇美人的臉部,這裡正是畫作與觀者交流、溝通的關鍵。美人面如寒霜,冷艷而又神秘,令人覺得她的背後隱約埋藏著一段曲折的心事,亦或是一段生活史和心靈史的沉澱,誘發起觀者的無垠遐想。俯臥的左手臂形成一個優雅的直角,前傾的上半身與合抱的雙臂構成深邃的半月形,繪花的紈扇與美人的面部相呼應,在傳達出穩定情緒的同時,也給畫面注入動感和張力。

    藝術家充分運用光線這個極富感染力的繪畫語言,營造出一個浪漫而神秘的氛圍。一束來自畫面右上方的非自然照明的聚光,照亮了人物的五官輪廓,並灑落在由金黃、青綠、暗紅等色塊構成的華美衣飾上,產生細緻而典雅的紋理。暗調子的團花地毯與簡潔黯淡的背景,進一步凸顯出藝術家精心構築的光線效果,使得聚光下的人物具有一種樸素的雕塑感和劇場感,產生古典和時空凝固的感覺,令人聯想到17世紀荷蘭繪畫大師林布蘭特的名作〈達娜厄〉(見附圖)。

    「女人美在畫中」,陳逸飛如是說。自八十年代末起,他著手創作了一系列優美的中國仕女形象。從人物畫創作的第一步,選擇適當的模特兒來表現藝術家想像中的特定形象開始,陳逸飛一直秉持著他心中理想女性的審美標準:典雅、貴氣。從其油畫〈西廂待月〉中的模特兒陳文韻、〈罌粟花〉的溫小蓉,到〈窗外〉的董嫻、〈扇〉的葉繼紅,再到〈在夜總會裡〉的宋美英(後為陳逸飛妻子),無一不表現出這樣雍容高貴的氣質。此幅〈斜臥的持扇美人〉中的模特兒,據認為正是名模陳娟紅,她是陳逸飛曾向媒體公開承認「最好的女模特」。(參見楊長勳《視覺人生:陳逸飛傳》,上海書店出版社,2006年,頁110。)同樣以陳娟紅為原型創作的作品,參見〈聞鶯〉一畫(香港蘇富比2011年10月3日拍品編號776)。

    如果說,畫家於80年代創作的「音樂家」系列開創了用油畫表現仕女音樂題材的先河,那麼〈斜臥的持扇美人〉所代表的「海上舊夢」系列,則是陳逸飛在90年代對仕女題材的更深層次的文化探索和藝術昇華。出於一種個人對地域文化的追尋和探求,他將藝術的觸角伸向了20世紀30年代老上海這個久遠的歷史文化空間。如他自己所述:「我撥開時空的差異,盡力表現古代華夏文化的遺風,衣服是古裝,臉孔卻是現代的,希望表達的是一種華夏文化的印象,不單只是美女圖,而且是文化再現。」(參見王曼萍〈潯陽驚艷〉,載於蔣祖烜編撰《神話陳逸飛》,湖南美術出版社,長沙,1999年,頁156。)從這一點出發,透過這些民國時代閨樓女子的重重身影,陳逸飛將他的浪漫與懷舊,切入到更深的層次,唯美地再現了老上海的流金歲月和人文精神,這也正是一段中國文化歷史的藝術沉澱。

    Caption
    圖片說明

    Rembrandt van Rijn 'Danae', 1936
    林布蘭特〈達娜厄〉,1936年作,俄羅斯聖彼得堡冬宮博物館
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