New Frontiers
Tatler Singapore|November 2020
Cai Guo-Qiang isn’t the only globetrotting artist from China. Here are six others—both past and present—who have travelled far from home in search of inspiration

SANYU

When Sichuan-born artist Sanyu passed away in his Paris apartment in 1966, the victim of a gas leak, he was poor, alone and virtually unknown. Now, he’s hailed as the Chinese Matisse, famous for blurring the boundaries of Chinese and western art by painting female nudes—a subject forbidden in China at the time—in a style inspired by traditional Chinese calligraphy and landscape painting. Sanyu first moved to the French capital in 1921, when he was 20 years old. His early years in Europe weren’t fruitful, but he began developing his distinctive aesthetic in 1923 when he enrolled at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and had access to life models for the first time. Sadly, his work rarely sold during his lifetime. It wasn’t until 15 years after his death, when Taiwanese art dealers rediscovered his work, that his paintings became sought after by collectors and museums. Last November, his painting Five Nudes sold for HK$303 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong—a record for the artist.

ZAO WOU-KI

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