ARTS

Marc Newson

I’m always looking for processes and techniques that are completely anachronistic. I love recontextualizing these things in a modern time. —Marc Newson Gagosian is pleased to present new works by designer Marc Newson. This is Newson’s first exhibition of limited-edition furniture in China. From the outset of his singular career, Newson has pursued parallel activities in limited and mass production of functional design objects.

 

With inspirations ranging from popular culture to traditional crafts from around the world, he approaches design as both an exploratory technical exercise and a process of conceptual, aesthetic, and physical refinement. Employing sculptural principles to address issues of efficiency, luxury, and use value, Newson has produced a broad array of highly crafted objects—watches, footwear, luggage, furniture, transport—upholding the principle that engineering and aesthetics are inseparable. Revisiting his roots as a jeweler and silversmith, in this exhibition Newson explores increasingly rare decorative processes at an unconventionally large, even unprecedented, scale.

 

He has long been drawn to the streamlined, simple beauty of Asian art and design: from his Aikuchi swords made in the renowned Tōhoku region of Japan to, most recently, his furniture created using the ancient technique of Chinese cloisonné—an enameling technique that originated in the eastern Mediterranean more than three thousand years ago and spread to China around the fourteenth century. Although this intricate process is typically used for jewelry, figurines, and vases, Newson oversaw the construction of a massive new kiln in a cloisonné factory outside Beijing that would allow for multiple firings of desks, chairs, and lounges. Blurring the boundaries between sculpture, furniture, and the decorative arts, the resulting works are like jewels expanded to the full scale of the body. They feature Newson’s signature “orgone” pattern, as well as interpretations of traditional Chinese floral motifs, such as large magnolias on a white ground, or cherry blossom branches set against opaque black enamel. The exhibition also includes a selection of Newson’s cast glass chairs.

 

Made in the Czech Republic, these are continuous symmetrical forms comprised of two hollow quarter-spheres. The boldly colored upper halves rest on clear bases, which absorb some of the reflected hues in their clouded interiors, an effect that subtly changes depending on the vantage point. Because both glass and enamel are extremely precarious materials, Newson’s new furniture defies physical odds, necessitating years of experimentation and refinement. However, despite the intensive labor and research involved, the works appear as seamless, polished units—simple forms carrying complex histories of labor, craft, and beauty.

 Sotheby’s Fine Chinese Paintings Autumn Sale on 2 October 2018 will feature approximately 270 exquisite modern Chinese ink paintings, with a combined estimate in excess of HK$230 million*.  The sale is led by two monumental figure paintings by Zhang Daqian from very different periods in his career: the splashed-ink-and-colour Self Portrait with a Tibetan Mastiff, and Portrait of Guanyin from Dunhuang Fresco in Gongbi brushwork style.  Further highlights include a landscape masterpiece by Fu Baoshi from the 1940s,  Wu Guanzhong’s old Hong Kong croquis, Wing On Street - Cloth Alley and Li Keran’s Kunlun Mountains, annotated by Chairman Mao Zedong’s poetry.

 

Carmen Ip, Acting Head of Department, Fine Chinese Paintings, Sotheby’s Asia, comments, “This season, we are pleased to bring together works of artistic significance by modern Chinese artists. Many boast impeccable provenance, several are fresh-to-the-market.  Headlining the sale are two figure paintings by Zhang Daqian:  Portrait of Guanyin from Dunhuang Fresco, a rare example remaining in private hands, and Self Portrait with a Tibetan Mastiff, a splashed ink and colour seminal self-portrait by the artist.

 

Complementing these are works which touch upon themes of modern society, such as Wu Guanzhong’s Old Hong Kong Croquis, Wing On Street - Cloth Alley, Fu Baoshi’s ground-breaking ink rendering, Grandeur of Coal Capital and Li Keran’s Kunlun Mountains, annotated by Chairman Mao Zedong’s poetry. Not only do these paintings carry significant historical connotations, they also demonstrate feats of exemplary artistic achievement.”

From an Important Asian Private Collection

Zhang Daqian

Self Portrait with a Tibetan Mastiff

Splashed ink and colour on gold paper, framed

176 by 96 cm

Estimate upon request

 

Self-portraiture is an important and recurring theme in Zhang Daqian’s paintings.  Measuring 6 foot in height, Self Portrait with a Tibetan Mastiff depicts the artist garbed in robes, with a scroll in hand. Beside him is a strapping Tibetan Mastiff sporting dense black fur, both fine and lush in texture. The background of the composition is filled with rich and thickly impastoed blue ink splashes of varying gradation, forming a kaleidoscopic shimmer which serves as a stark contrast to the jet black fur of the dog, against the gold paper background. The painting remained with Zhang Daqian throughout his life.

Wu Guanzhong

Wing On Street - Cloth Alley

1990, Ink and colour on paper, framed, 53.3 by 47.7 cm

Estimate: HK$ 1,000,000-1,500,000

 

In November 1990, Wu Guanzhong was invited by Land Development Corporation to visit Hong Kong for a painting trip.  Created during this trip, Wing On Street - Cloth Alley depicts Wing On Street of Hong Kong, which was originally an alley which connects Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central. It gained prominence at the turn of the century for fabric shops, hence its nickname “Cloth Alley”.  The alley was dismantled in the 1990s due to urban restructuring.  The painting depicts a corner of the original neighborhood with clever usage of color dots and stripes, showing the hustle and bustle of the zigzagging old alley, with copious signage in English and Chinese above, epitomising the fusing of East and West characteristic of Hong Kong. Beyond the blue and white striped canopy are towering skyscrapers emerging amongst the sprawling rooftops of old buildings, bringing to life the city’s bridging of old and new.

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Marc Newson GGHK Install 10