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

Qin Qi (b.1975)
Small Half-Moon(Painted in 2019)

Oil on canvas

120 × 120 cm. 47 1/4 × 47 1/4 in.

2022, Qin Qi 2012-2022, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing, p. 149
Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing
Important Private Collection, Asia

A Serendipitous Journey through History and Art
Qin Qi Illuminates the Ideal Realm of Reality

Qin Qi stands as a vanguard representative among China's post-70s artists, his painting language marked by a unique blend of "audacious creativity" and "introspective thought", forging a path unparalleled in the art world. Since his groundbreaking solo exhibition Chairs Can Save Lives at the Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum in 2010, he swiftly ascended to the forefront of new Chinese painting. Exhibitions such as the Qin Qi Solo Exhibition in Platform China in 2014, the Heavenly Bodies in the South at the He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen in 2020, and the Qin Qi: Figures Series at Tang Contemporarty Art, further solidified his prominence. The featured work, Small Half-Moon, showcased in his Figures Series, epitomizes a captivating encounter with historical allure.

Harnessing the Strength of Bulls: a Spectacle Toppling the World

At first glance, Qin Qi's Small Half-Moon might appear whimsical: a young man from the Northeast China, bearing on his back a black bull twice his size, traversing a snowy landscape under the moon's glow. The entire horizon of the earth tilts dramatically to the left under this burden, as if the world itself were toppling. The clear moonlight illuminates the path ahead for the figure in the painting, while the snow-covered branches slowly part like curtains. These details, vividly depicted by Qin Qi's delicate and lively brushstrokes, narrate the protagonist's journey filled with mythical undertones. Upon closer inspection, the central figure's face bears a striking resemblance to the artist and poet Mang Ke who participated in the Stars Art Exhibition, a prominent figure in Qin Qi's Star (2019) and A Poet and A Painter (2020) . This subtle inclusion positions the artwork as a reference to the era-defining "Demanding Freedom of Art" advocated by the Stars Art Exhibition, symbolising the subversive and progressive path of contemporary art exploration.

A Whimsically Humourous Visionary World

Small Half-Moon, part of Qin Qi's emblematic New Historical Romanticism series since 2014, transcends mere symbolism. Qin Qi intricately intertwines landscapes and figures from diverse regions, epochs, and cultures, employing dreamlike juxtapositions and reconfigurations to craft a language of historical profundity and surreal realism, inviting viewers on an exploration of imaginative connections.

In this realm, the central figure appears to traverse between classical and contemporary, artistic and literary, Western and Eastern realms. Crowned with a Phrygian cap, he might embody a mariner on the "Raft of the Medusa", resolutely facing storms. Alternatively, he may assume the role of Jesus, bearing the cross through the night of faith's journey. Or, reminiscent of Milo of Croton, the ancient Greek athlete, he strides boldly with a bull on his shoulders, defying expectations. These elements converge in Small Half-Moon, where Jesus's cross transforms into a bull, the sea raft becomes a snowy path, and the figure from Northeast China replaces Milo. Only the enduring half-moon remains unchanged, casting its luminance across centuries, steadfast in its brilliance.

When the Moon Shone Brightly, It Once Illuminated the Return of Old Friends

In truth, Qin Qi never offered definitive answers for his works in the New Historical Romanticism series; instead, he erected a stage for the audience's imagination. Much like the full moon conceals half of itself in the interplay of light and shadow, his paintings subtly imply "reasonableness" within seemingly irrational scenes. As he once remarked, "It is precisely because of their irrationality that unexpected revelations can emerge".

Thus, within the framework of surrealism, Qin Qi presents a canvas where one possibility intertwines with another, each leading to the next. The figures within his art could be generals charging across mountains and seas on swift steeds, poets chasing freedom, or simply hunters, everyday folk. Yet, they all exude a heroic aura akin to that of King Wu of Qin bearing the tripod, guarding perseverance and courage amidst the moon's cool glow, resolutely treading their individual paths. And as the moonlight spills into this realm of idealized reality, his subjects' joys and sorrows, their unwavering resolve, and their dreams will all find expression along their journey.

Price estimate:
HKD: 250,000 – 350,000
USD: 31,900 - 44,700

Auction Result:
HKD: 300,000



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