Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2024 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Zhao Shou (1912 – 2003)
Narcissus in a Plate(Painted approximately in the late 1980s)

Oil on board

47 × 58 cm. 18 1/2 × 22 7/8 in.

Signed in pinyin on bottom right
Acquired directly by present private Asian collector from the artist

In the Serene and Upright Disposition, the Air Is Filled with a Delightful Fragrance
Zhao Shou, with His Unparalleled Artistic Style, Stood Resolutely Apart

In the course of 20th-century Chinese art history, the name "Zhao Shou" resounded throughout the art world, representing the vanguard spirit of national oil painting, akin to a precious pearl amidst the vast ocean. As a co-founder of the "Chinese Independent Art Association", he ignited a new wave of avant-garde art, hoisting the banner as "the Chinese ambassador of avant-garde art", and forging an uncharted path of "Eastern surrealism". Yet, unwilling to be swept along by the mainstream current, he willingly distanced himself, languishing in the shadows of the art world for nearly half a century. It wasn’t until 1985, with the publication of Jump! in the forefront platform of artistic innovation, the Art Newspaper of China, this "relentless champion of truth" was once again brought to public awareness.

In the following 1990s, Zhao has been successively invited to the Guangzhou Art Museum, the National Art Museum of China, the Guangdong Art Museum, and the exhibition Five thousand years of China at the New York Guggenheim Museum, so that the whole overseas art circle also recognized the value of this unnoticed pearl in the history of modern Chinese art. In this auction, we are honoured to present Zhao Shou’s Narcissus in a Plate. It is one of the rare——less than 120 pieces——oil paintings that can be examined.

With Unwavering Dignity, Turning Foliage and Flora into Verse

After the 1950s, amidst the tumultuous political upheavals, Zhao Shou withdrew from the art scene, yet his creative spirit remained undiminished. Amidst the collection of his enduring works, one discovers a trove of surrealistic characters and historical themes from the 1970s to the 1980s. Additionally, his oeuvre boasts an array of imagery such as bamboo, chrysanthemums, and perennial greens rendered with watercolour and ink, a testament to his authentic commitment to his craft. Notably, the oil painting Narcissus in a Plate, which he unveiled, likely emerged during his twilight years, portraying a bowl of blossoms on a table with the distinctive flair of the Fauvist movement, eloquently articulating the profound artistic fervor that resided within his soul.

Brilliantly Illuminated, Outstandingly Exceptional

Diverging from the traditional ink and brushstrokes that tend towards a tranquil style, Zhao Shou, deeply influenced by Fauvism and geometric abstraction, employs his signature bold and vigorous lines to delineate the veins and bulbs of the narcissus in the plate, accentuating their unique geometric sense and vitality. The two six-petaled narcissus blooms, resembling brimming cups of jade-coloured fragrance, bloom at the top. They are neither the "ethereal fairies with delicate fair skin like ice and gracefully slender figures" depicted in Chinese paintings, nor the mythical allegorical depictions prevalent in Western art. Instead, they stand tall and upright in the jade plate, radiating brilliance and filling the room with light. With the sunlight filtering through the thin veil, illuminating the narcissus in the plate, it also illuminates a row of books. The work presents a poetic tone that is distinctly Zhao Shou, reflecting his scholarly temperament. He allows the vibrant colours to surge freely, expressing a sense of self akin to autonomous consciousness: the pink and purple book spines convey the language of knowledge, the ink green and emerald green geometric grid cloth represent the earth’s natural elements, and above, the azure sky with its warm hues casts light upon the pale and elegant narcissus, symbolizing its purity and superiority. Though small, these flowers are like bright sunshine, expressing selfless and sincere emotions, emblematic of Zhao Shou’s unchanging artistic ideals: with a heart full of sincerity, even if standing alone in a corner, one can still spread fragrance throughout the world!

Price estimate:
HKD: 300,000 – 400,000
USD: 38,300 - 51,100

Auction Result:
HKD: --



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