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2024 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Fu Rao (b.1978)
Balcony II(Painted in 2021)

Oil on canvas

155 × 135 cm. 61 × 53 1/8 in.

Signed in pinyin and dated on bottom right; signed in pinyin and Chinese, titled in Chinese and dated on the reverse

2024, Flaming Image, Mind Set Art Center, Taipei, p 148
Mind Set Art Center, Taipei
Acquired directly by present private Asian collector from the above

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Taipei Mind Set Art Center and signed by the artist

The Spirit of Travel Guided by the Energised Sun
Fu Rao’s Contemporary Interpretation to the Myth of Dreaming in the Boat by Sunset

In the oeuvre of Fu Rao, the 46 year-old Chinese artist has had a vibrant upbringing and academic nurture since young. As known in the Chinese character for the word "human", the word is made up of two strokes; one curvature stroke to the left, representing first half of life, another curvature stroke to the right, symbolising later half of life. In Fu Rao's 46 years of living, life before age 23 can be perceived as first half of his life, where he was born in Beijing, followed by studies at Tsinghua University, Academy of Fine Arts, as well as education in Orientalism and aestheticism. After the age of 23, Fu Rao travelled to Germany, where he studied art sculpture and modelling, and art psychology at the Dresden Academy of Art. It was during his time abroad where he had a chance to explore his identity as an artist. The environmental ambience ignited his passion in exploration of Western Art. In connection to his earlier foundational study of Chinese Art, the transformation resulted in Fu’s flowing and effortless brushwork. A unique palette and signature that captures mythological colours and surreal imagery that is full of exuberance and expressions.   

The Balcony that Strides across Art History 

In the history of Western art, the subject of the "balcony" was a major motif among Impressionist painters. In the sphere of Paris, France, artists like Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot and Gustave Caillebotte all utilise the beauty and meaning of the balcony to describe a renewed community, filled with elegant gentlemen, ladies and children living in the city. In comparison to past interpretations, Fu Rao’s Balcony II depicts a contrasting scenery. The painting shows a man wearing a suit, seated relaxed in a crossed leg position. Instead of an ordinary balcony, this balcony is continuously integrated into the jungle and distant mountainscape. Breaking conventional descriptions of elegance and cityscape, Fu Rao presents a surrealistic scene with vibrant and magical colours. Whether it is the flaming banshee leaning beside the man, or the transparent soul in the backdrop, all elements exist in a state of irrationality. Inserting a dreamy ambience, the artist leads us to observe reminders of rest, fantasy and reality. By the sleeping green dog, the owner is also sleeping soundly. By the balcony ledge sits a black cat looking at the sea. Looking afar to the transparent soul, the abstract brushworks eludes us to the notion of fantasy and reality, past and present life, soul and body.  

Dawning a Spiritual Ideals

In Balcony II, the reference and homage to Impressionist masters are extensive and apparent. The painting adopts the vertical structure of Edvard Munch’s style of bridge to represent the extended courtyard terrace. Leaning back on a tilted chair,  the protagonist’s exaggerated legs are at a 90-degree right angle to the railing across the frame, imbued with the contemporary vitality of the simplified human figure in the paintings of German artist Daniel Richter. Besides from reference from the West, Fu Rao also signals the impact of important Chinese Contemporary artists, such as the iconic works of Zhou Chunya. Known for Zhou’s green dog, Fu Rao nods to the artist’s iconoclasm and vibrant ambience. In addition, the green symbol of vitality correlates to the bushes in the background and the casual attitude of the protagonist, demonstrating the exuberance and freedom of contemporary art. By the top right corner, the man’s toes cleverly indicate a direction signal, where the sun begins to rise. The glorious sunrise unequivocally shows hope and romanticism of new life at the beginning of sunrise. Such romanticism is also mentioned in Chinese poet Li Bai’s poetry, titled Hardships of the Road. The line says, "Suddenly I recall the dream I had in the boat passing by the sun". In earlier days, Yi Yin once dream he passed by the sun in his boat, and was then hired by the emperor Shang Tang. Nowadays, you and I, in the pursuit of our ideals, are steadily upholding our own strength. Through the vivid expressionist painting, Fu Rao leads the audience to travel between classical and modern paintings, between myth and reality, and to uphold a radiant, glorious and positive spirit as we chase upon our dreams.

Price estimate:
HKD: 220,000 – 320,000
USD: 28,100 - 40,900

Auction Result:
HKD: 336,000



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