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

Li Chen (b.1963)
Dragon-Riding Buddha(Executed in 2001)

Bronze sculpture Edition: 5/6

248 x 163 x 196 cm. 97 2/3 x 64 1/6 x 77 1/6 in.

Signed in Chinese and English, numbered on bottom of the backside

2004, 1992-2002 Li Chen Sculpture, Asia Arts Center, Taipei, p.82-83
2007, Li Chen: Energy of Emptiness-52nd International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Asia Arts Center, Taipei, p.118-119, p.121-127, p.129 and p.219
2008, Li Chen: In Search of Spiritual Space - Solo Exhibition at National Art Museum of China, Asia Arts Center, Taipei, p.50-57, p.171, p.173-176, p.197 and back cover
2010, Li Chen: Mind•Body•Spirit, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, p.57, p.66, p.94-103, p.183
2012, Greatness of Spirit – Li Chen Premiere Sculpture Exhibition in Taiwan, Asia Arts Center, Taipei, p.9, p.28, p.57-58, p.78-79, p.133 and p.160-161
2014, Monumental Levity of Li Chen: Premiere Sculpture Exhibition Place Vendôme, Asia Arts Center, Taipei, p.67, p.78, p.82-83, p.153
2018, United Daily News, United Daily News Corporation, Taipei, front page
8 Jun – 21 Nov 2007, Li Chen: Energy of Emptiness-52nd International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice
29 Apr – 11 May 2008, Li Chen: In Search of Spirtual Space, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
17 Sep – 9 Dec 2009, Li Chen: Spirit, Body, and Soul, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
6 Nov – 4 Dec 2011, Greatness of Spirit – Li Chen Premiere Sculpture Exhibition in Taiwan, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei
2 – 29 Sep 2013, Li Chen's 2013 Large-Scale Sculpture Exhibition at Paris Vanden Plaza, Vendome Square, Paris

Important Private Collection, Asia

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Asia Arts Center, Taipei

Travel Widely, Meditate Wisely
Li Chen's Epic Work, Dragon-Riding Buddha

I attempt to imbue my work with a soul — to fuse spirituality and art. I hope that people who view my works will be able to sense and comprehend their inherent philosophy. Philosophy is highly significant in my work. I hope that each one of my works will enrich the life of whoever views it.
—Li Chen

Abounding with energy and conveying a wealth of spiritual significance, Li Chen's sculptures develop a mastery of contemporary artistic expression. From the beginning of his career, Li has relentlessly pushed the limits of his chosen medium. In 1998, he made an important breakthrough in his artistic self-discovery and developed his trademark “heavy-yet-light” style. Li later increasingly emphasized the expression of spirituality in his work. From 2000 onwards, he took his art to new heights by borrowing elements from Chinese mythology as well as Buddhist and Taoist philosophy. Li's first exhibition in Taipei took the art world by storm in 1999. Since then, he has risen to international eminence and solidified his status as one of Asia's greatest sculptors through other large-scale exhibitions, such as Energy of Emptiness and Spiritual Journey through the Great Ether.

A Work of Staggering Dimensions
In the garden outside his atelier, Li once put the three works of which he is most proud on display. Standing in the middle was his Dragon-Riding Buddha. This work was originally placed at the main entrance to his 2009 exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum and is thought of as the defining masterpiece of his Spiritual Journey through the Great Ether series. China Guardian Hong Kong honorably presents the sculpture this auction season. At 2.5 meters tall, it is currently the most imposing work by Li Chen on the market, and truly stunning to behold as well.

Brimming with Energy and Spirit
Dragon-Riding Buddha is a highly evocative and multi-faceted work; from behind a façade of solemn tranquility, an abundant source of energy surges forth. The dragon on the bottom has a regal expression and resembles a traditional copper shrine. A row of scales stand erect along its spine. Under its feet are various auspicious objects: a pearl, a lotus flower, a cloud, and a flame. The buddha on its back exudes a sense of majesty and inner peace. This sculpture is in fact Li's contemporary interpretation of a Chinese legend. The buddha stands with his arms stretched open, conveying the noble ideals of tolerance and harmony. He seemingly welcomes us to cast off the shackles of our mundane existence and embrace peace and happiness.

Beyond the Confines of the Material World
When I create, I try to take myself into a spiritual space.
— Li Chen

The artist's choice of materials powerfully conveys a layer of philosophical meaning that is in keeping with the subject matter. Li Chen has an acute understanding of East Asian aesthetics; he is able to bring out the wisdom and benevolence of his subject using minimal, curved lines that were typical of Buddhist statues from the Northern Wei period (386–534 CE). Through the use of black lacquer — a material commonly used in traditional Chinese art — Li ingeniously creates a sense of simultaneous heaviness and lightness. Unlike the voluptuous sculptures of Fernando Botero and Jeff Koons, Li Chen uses this uniquely paradoxical aesthetic to convey Buddhist and Taoist notions of emptiness. For example, his sculptures resemble balloons: they appear hollow. Meanwhile, their curved lines evoke the pacifist nature of Buddhist monks. The buddha here seems to float in the air, transcending the confines of the material world in order to become one with nature.

Through his choice of material and formal traits, Li Chen successfully fuses contemporary art with a transcendental philosophy rooted in traditional Chinese culture.

Price estimate:
HKD: 4000,000 – 8000,000
USD: 510,000 – 1,020,000

Auction Result:
HKD: 11,190,000



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