Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2023 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Li Chen (b.1963)
Heavenly Pond(Executed in 2008)

Bronze sculpture Edition: 1/8

85 × 57 × 49.5 cm.33 1/2 × 22 1/2 × 19 1/2 in.

Incised with artist's seal, signed in English and numbered on the middle of the backside; dated on the bottom of the backside

LITERATURE (different edition)
2008, Li Chen: In Search of Spiritual Space 2008 Solo Exhibition at National Art Museum of China, Asia Art Center, Taipei, p. 188
2012, Greatness of Spirit: Li Chen Premiere Sculpture Exhibition in Taiwan, Asia Art Center, Taipei, p.169
Asia Arts Center, Taipei
Acquired directly by present private Asian collector from the above

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

Harmonious Combination of Secular and Spiritual
Li Chen’s Work from His Classical Series——Spiritual Journey Through the Great Ether

Born in 1963, Li Chen is a famous Chinese sculptor. He began with carving traditional Buddha statues in the early stage of his artistic career, and groundbreakingly added his individualized imagination and contemporary spirits to the following pioneering works. In 1999, Li Chen’s personalized sculptures were first exposed in his solo exhibition Energy of Emptiness in Taipei which caused a great sensation. After Taipei, Li Chen has successively held solo exhibitions at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, the National Gallery of Singapore, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, and other important art institutions. Additionally, he became the first Chinese artist invited to hold a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

Li Chen’s sculpturing history is a progress of modernization. He has shown his consciousness of modern modelling to create sculptures with delicate, smooth, dark and bright surfaces since the 1990s. After 2000, he presented a more deliberate and relaxing attitude and made more minimalist and humorous works. Simultaneously, he combined the Taoist philosophy of “wandering between the sky and earth” with the sculptures to emphasize the power of “qiyun”, or conceptions. The application is embodied in his most famous Spiritual Journey Through the Great Ether series, which is continuing since 2001. Heavenly Pond, presented at this spring auction, is one in the series.

Silver and Brilliant Buddha Wonderland, Holy Heavenly Pond in Clouds and Fogs

The inspiration for Heavenly Pond originates from Li Chen’s perception of natural ponds. Either the clear and silent Sun Moon Lake in his hometown or the waters like diamonds when he looks down from the planes will appeal to the artist. On the other hand, the elegant and holy heavenly pond is the practice place for Boddhisatva and Buddha’s guardian warriors, a treasurable wonderland in the Buddhist culture. As a sincere Buddhist, Li naturally introduces this concept into his creation. In Heavenly Pond, three spiritual mountains with clear and exquisite textures surround the holy pond. The overflowing water seems like steaming clouds bringing the whole atmosphere away from the secular landscape and into the divine realm. Li Chen applied his original technique of pasting silver foil by hand to construct the pond water, with the rolling waves reflecting the transparent halo, which mirrors the main body carved by the black lacquer copper. The standing Buddha as the “miracle” is, however, transformed into a naughty child and appears happy in the water.

As Innocent as a Child, as Ambitious as the Peng

Li Chen incorporated more realistic human body elements in Heavenly Pond compared to his previous work. Specifically, the lines of the figure’s chest bulge as it stretches while shrink at the abdomen to suggest the motion of natural breathing. The whole outline shows an elegant curve like water waves. Regarding the figure’s gesture, he lifts his right hand with the left hand extending flat, and his strong right arm is almost half the width of his body, seeming like the sky pillar full of power, and also the Peng bird in Daoism book Wandering in Absolute Freedom. Li’s exaggerated enlargement of part of the body makes the heavy copper medium produce the lightness of floating upward, forming Li’s signature visual impression of “both heavy and light”. Moreover, the character’s lower jaw tilts towards his chest, squeezing out the lovely and fleshy cheeks. His plump lips are slightly open, while his eyes are closed, seeming solemn and relaxed like a child, and delivering the expression of Buddha and human. Last but not least, the back of the sculpture first reveals Li Chen’s realistic description of human buttocks, manifesting not only the natural beauty of the human body but also the cuteness and playfulness. Li Chen establishes the infectious power of art through warm and humanistic details, arousing the viewers’ relaxed and leisurely moods and delivering the enjoyment of serenity in the world of ease and brightness.

Price estimate:
HKD: 600,000 – 900,000
USD: 76,400 – 114,600

Auction Result:
HKD: 744,000



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