Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2019 Autumn Auctions
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Lee Man Fong (1913-1988)
Twin Doves(Painted in 1960s)

Oil on board

102.5 x 51 cm. 40 1/3 x 20 in.

Signed in Chinese with an artist's stamp on upper right
12 Jul 1967, Lee Man Fong Solo Exhibition, Victoria Memorial Hall, Singapore

Acquired directly by present Singapore collector from the artist

Note: All proceeds of this lot will be donated to Singapore Ren Ci Community Hospital to benefit local medical treatment

Twin Doves – a Classic of Lee Man Fong, the Pioneer of Southeast Asian Art
A Morality Model with Theoretical Contribution who Reached the Acme of Perfection

As a pioneer of the Nanyang style, Lee Man Fong was a self-taught artist who was born in Guangzhou, China. He moved to Singapore with his family and relocated to Indonesia where his artistic career began. In 1936, he joined the Dutch East Indies Association as the first Chinese painter, and his works were highly praised and collected by the Netherlands lieutenant-governor general. In 1941, Lee held his first solo exhibition in Jakarta, of which the number of visitors reached over thousands, setting the record of visitor for the local exhibitions held by Chinese painters. When Xu Beihong came across Lee's work in Southeast Asia, he was highly commemorative of Lee's potential and described Lee in a catalog preface as 'young, ambitious and most talented, not confined to the hackneyed conventional form.' In 1947, Lee was awarded the Malino Scholarship to pursue further study in the Netherlands. The rich traditions of Western oil painting imbued him with the emotional tension of realistic painting, leading to his mastery of light and narrative composition. After returning to Indonesia, he was recognized by Indonesian President Sukarno and served as the court painter of the presidential palace. Today, Lee is acknowledged as one of the most important Avant-Garde artists of modern Southeast Asian art.

Harmonious and Exquisite: the Juxtaposition of Time and Space where the East Meets the West
The Twin Doves series completed between 1960 and 1967, is the most influential and recognizable series of Lee. The theme of white dove emerged during the oriental-style period before his study in the Netherlands and has been favored by the collectors since the 1940s. The image of white doves is a symbol of peace and equality in Western culture while standing for faith and harmonious family in Chinese culture. Its symbolism in the east and the west coincides with each other, as well as Lee's artistic approach which blends the two cultures. The image of white dove has since remained the main subject of Lee's painting throughout his artistic career, developing into an aesthetic classic in Nanyang painting.

The two fantail pigeons in the painting stand abreast on a Taihu stone, representing the recluse spirit of standing aloof from the world and remaining independent. A beam of light from above lights up the white doves in the center, and make their feathers appear bright and dazzling, showing the artist's perfect command of technique. His concise and swift brushstrokes outline the waving branches in the background, and the solid Taihu stone is adorned with flowers which bring a touch of warmth. This literati expression with a freehand style and the western style of the pigeons in the foreground cast beautiful reflections on each other, imbuing the painting with interest and charm which can be deemed either Eastern or Western. At the same time, the artist deliberately avoided a deep depth of field. Instead, he presented the oriental artistic conception - the union of heaven and man - with the technique of blank leaving, triggering the viewer's infinite imagination.

By the 1960s, the White Dove image has developed into a symbol of the artist's character. Throughout his life, Lee was indifferent to fame and fortune, remaining modest and restrained. Although he had shown extraordinary talent to the art world since his middle age, he was always passionate about art and has spared no effort in the development of Nanyang art. Lee projected his pursuit of life to the symbol of Eastern and Western cultures, resulting in his unique artistic creation, spontaneous yet refined, dynamic yet full of depth.

Clear Provenance with Benevolence and Glory
On July 12, 1967, Lee held his first exhibition in Singapore at the Victoria Memorial Hall, which welcomed a continuous stream of politicians and prominent figures, and became an unprecedentedly grand occasion. Deeply touched, Lee decided to settle in Singapore after the exhibition and spent the last 20 years of his life there. The work, Twin Doves, was sold at this significant exhibition and carefully held by a Singaporean collector for more than half a century. Out of the holder's philanthropy intention, proceeds of the sale will be donated to the Ren Ci Community Hospital in Singapore, giving financial support to its medical, nursing and rehabilitation service which is provided to local communities at a low cost. Through the collector's benevolence, the artist's wishes for a peaceful and better world are passed on to today, which is about to become a much -told story.

Price estimate:
HKD: 200,000 – 300,000
USD: 25,500 – 38,300

Auction Result:
HKD: 236,000



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