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

Wang Huaiqing (b.1944)
Space(Painted in 1994)

Oil and mixed media on canvas

101 x 80 cm. 39 3/4 x 31 1/2 in.

Signed in Chinese on upper left

1997, Great Exhibition of Chinese Art—Oil Painting, Shanghai Chinese Painting Publishing House, Shanghai, p.21
1999, Wang Huaiqing, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, p.33
2004, Wang Huaiqing, Artron Art Publishing House, Shenzhen, p. 92 - 93
30 Jun – 29 Jul 1997, Great Exhibition of Chinese Art – Modern Oil Paintings, Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai
2 – 18 Jan 1999, Wang Huaiqing, Lin &Keng Gallery, Taipei

Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei
Important Private Collection, Asia

Beyond Representational and Toward the East
Wang Huaiqing's 1990s Milestone Work Space

“Wang Huaiqing is motivated by three factors: his feeling for traditional China and its relationship to the modern world; his own life memories; and his exploration of the essential order of painting itself.”
—Michael Sullivan

The work of Wang Huaiqing has creatively spanned two-dimensional graphic art and three-dimensional spatial art through the artist's embrace of representation, images and abstract art. Wang has been a sober and resolute force in the world of Chinese oil painting, immersed in Western formal beauty and Eastern imagist philosophy in a way that has enabled him to create a language of the times based on “the active doctrine of the mean” and “vigorous freehand character.”

Eastern Imagery: Complexity in Simple Forms
Wang Huaiqing was born in Beijing in 1944 and in 1979 enrolled at the Central Academy of Art and Design to study for a Master's Degree, where he learned painting under Zhang Ding and Wu Guanzhong. Many of his earlier works focused on traditional brushwork and ink painting style, creating an aesthetic imbued with Eastern charm. Wang was also deeply influenced by the high esteem in which Wu Guanzhong held “abstract beauty.” A visit to Huangshan left Wang inspired by the forms he saw in local traditional buildings and provided an important opportunity for a shift in his artistic style, as well as an historical “qualitative change” from representational to abstract art.

Beyond Representational: Structuralist 'Ming Space'
In the early 1990s, Wang became more demanding of “managed composition” as he embraced the rigor and rational brushwork of hard-edge abstraction to change the composition of his paintings. However, the formal sense of space in these works came not from an accumulation of skill but rather the closely interwoven nature of space, form, meaning and aesthetics in Chinese culture. Wang's Dwellings series in the 1980s represented an exploration of semi-abstraction and formalism, but it was also an example of the artist breaking away from an artistic world dominated by realism and scar art, to become one of the most influential modern oil painters.

Space, being sold at the autumn auction, was painted in 1994. That was an important period for the artist and the work showcases the “change in artistic direction” he embraced at that time. The painting is particularly noteworthy in as much as it not only represents a departure from the confines of earlier representational outlines, it is also markedly differs from the increasingly random line style of the paintings that followed. In this context, Space speaks to a transitional “interlude” as Wang evolved from representational to two-dimensional graphic work and his abstract period. The work is most notable for its rational division of structure and innovative experimentation with colors in ways that realize the artist's inner need for “extreme minimalism and sumptuousness.”

Simple Abstraction: 'Return to Original Simplicity' in Form
Through his well honed skill with lines, Wang combines exquisite binding force, highly simple combinations of form and color and an exploration of traditional handicraft art. This reveals his focus and reflection on local culture as part of a “return to original simplicity,” therein showcasing the power of innovative creativeness.

The dense geometric divisions and formal structure of Space is imbued with the rationalist brilliance of the De Stijl (Dutch for The Style) Movement. Moreover, the “abstraction and simplicity” of the painting displays what Piet Mondrian dubbed Neo-plasticist style. The line structure on the right of the work resembles a bookcase and appears to meet the style and dimensions of traditional woodwork, but it also uses “displaced” details to imbue each aspect with a sense of flow or extension. In this way, Space represents a break from the limitations imposed by traditional spatial structure, creating a highly divergent visual field that alludes to the open mindedness and reflection of artists as they explore external space. Wang Huaiqing also uses iconic dark black brushstrokes to construct the generous style of Ming furniture. In other words, although Wang unreservedly embraced the aesthetic appeal of traditional literati and the beauty of an exquisite craftsman, he also added the missing features of buildings and furniture to the Western style paintings, which transforms the work into an artistic paradigm highlighting the modern reputation of traditional handicraft art.

Color Tone: Non Formal Image Texture
In the early 1980s, Wang Huaiqing started using only black, white and grey in his paintings, creating the iconic “black/white” expressive method seen in his “Ming-style Furniture” series. However, in the 1990s, his works gradually started to display greater diversity in color. Indeed, Wang's rarely use of gold and silver powder in Space creates a unique background with a golden hue and texture. The way in which the bronze-gold hue disperses in the background surrounding the upper part of the black structure is reminiscent of a nebula refracting the brilliance of traditional civilization in time and space. In addition, the silver powder sprinkled in the four corners of the painting seems to allude to the unrestrained challenges of the modern metal age, transformed by a millennium of heritage into stardust adorning traditional culture.

Feibai Charm: Reality and Virtuality in Calligraphy Study
In addition to the diverse expressiveness of the background, the casual and powerful brushstrokes employed in Wang Huaiqing's Space create a Feibai-like calligraphic charm that connects the white areas in the painting. That strengthens the texturing effect, as well as the visual tension between abstract and representational elements. As such, the work is reminiscent of the white paper scrolls found in the study of literati, enhancing the inner Zen meaning of the Ming furniture and return to original simplicity.

Wang not only used similar white blocks to obfuscate the deep color background structure of other works in the same period, he also used this method in many of his paintings into the 1990s. As such, this consummate “positioning” became a unique harbinger of the way Wang Huaiqing transcends time.

Price estimate:
HKD: 4,800,000 – 5,800,000
USD: 612,000 – 739,500

Auction Result:
HKD: 5,664,000



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