Christie’s Auction of Southeast Asian Modern & Contemporary Art

. May 2, 2010

Christie’s Hong Kong announces its Spring sale of Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art will take place on 30 May at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Featuring over 130 quality works spanning the history and geography in the Southeast Asian region, the sale brings together modern masterpieces of undisputed provenance and some of the most sought-after contemporary artworks. The category’s modern masters and contemporary stars continue to be represented by works of the highest quality in the sale which is valued in excess of HK$22 million (US$2.8 million).

A Diverse Offering of Southeast Asia’s Top Contemporary Artists
Against the backdrop of a swift recovery in the contemporary art market worldwide, this season’s selection of contemporary Southeast Asian art continues to lead the market in diversity and depth, presenting collectors with superb examples of works by the best of both established and emerging artists from around the region.

Leading Indonesian painter Nyoman Masriadi (b.1973) is represented in the sale by four significant works, presenting unparalleled opportunities for collectors. Mr. Universe (Manusia Batu) (estimate: HK$600,000-800,000 / US$76,900-102,600) emerges from the artist’s fascination with bodybuilding and its association with power. Magnificently sculpted, the figure in the work represents the pinnacle in the painter’s visualization of the ultimate human form. Alongside Mr. Universe (Manusia Batu) is Man from Bantul (estimate: HK$500,000-700,000 / US$64,100-89,700), the last of four known works from the artist’s sought-after Man from Bantul series to come to market. Depicting a lone boxer and suffused autobiographical elements, the work is arguably the most personal and self-revealing piece from this important series and thus a significant collecting opportunity.

Two exceptional works from Rudi Mantofani (b.1973) and Handiwirman Saputra (b.1975) are featured in this season’s sale. Sebatas Aroma (Limited to scents) (estimate: HK$320,000-480,000 / US$41,000-61,500) by Rudi Mantofani depicts a perfume bottle against a stark barren landscape, a symbol of vanity and a comment on the concern with appearances in contemporary society. From Handiwirman Saputra comes Merem – Tuturkarena series (estimate: HK$450,000-600,000 / US$57,700-76,900), one of the artist’s most accomplished paintings from his celebrated Tuturkarena series in which he composes and paints objects in a variety of spatial arrangements to evoke different sensations from audiences.

Contemporary works from the Philippines continue to find growing interest from collectors and this season’s selection of Philippine contemporary art illustrates the depth and vibrancy of this particular market. Overtones (estimate: HK$150,000-250,000 / US$19,200-32,100) by Filipino Ronald Ventura (b.1973) heads the selection. Ventura comments on the clash of monotone culture and gaudy capitalism and the social decay brought on by norms that guide daily life. Alongside Overtones is Geraldine Javier’s (b.1970) Ella amo’ apasionadamentey fue correspondida (For she loved fiercely, and she is well-loved) (estimate: HK$150,000-200,000 / US$19,200-25,600), an exceptional and original interpretation of the legacy of Mexican modern artist, Frida Kahlo.

Key works by established artists such as Malaysian Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s (b.1955) Holy cow (estimate: HK$90,000-150,000 / US$11,500-US$19,200) and Thai Natee Utarit’s (b.1970)Venus, the peel of emptiness (estimate: HK$180,000-280,000 / US$23,100-35,900) round out the regional coverage of the contemporary section.

A Season of Extraordinary Opportunities to Acquire Important Masterworks
The Spring 2010 offering of Southeast Asian modern art is singular in the breadth and depth of significant modern masterpieces being offered. The selection cuts across historical and country boundaries, offering collectors the chance to acquire the very best examples of colonial Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, Singaporean and Vietnamese modern art.

The selection is led by an early Balinese painting from the Italy-born painter traveller Romualdo Locatelli (1905-1943). Like other painter-travellers of the colonial era, capturing the fabled beauty of Balinese womenfolk commanded an endearing place in Locatelli’s artistic ambitions. Young Balinese Girl with Hibiscus (estimate: HK$2,200,000-3,200,000 / US$282,000-410,200) is a striking portrait of a Balinese nymph captured in the glorious flushes of blossoming youth. Executed in 1939, it is one of Locatelli’s first portraits in Bali, and hence highly significant in his oeuvre.

Kuda Lumping (estimate: HK$800,000-1,200,000 /US$102,600-153,800) by Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983) shows the artist tackling one of his most preferred subjects in a repertoire of scenes from Indonesian life. A superb example of the subject, the present work is expected to generate much interest from collectors. Christie’s holds the current auction record for the artist (HK$5,927,500/US$760,774, May 2008, Christie’s Hong Kong), with a work bearing the same subject.

Indonesian-Chinese modern maestro Lee Man Fong (1913-1988) is represented by four works headed by Twin horses (estimate: HK$1,000,000-1,500,000 / US$128,200-192,300), a striking minimalist rendition of two horses grazing. While revealing the artist’s fondness for the animal, this work displays Lee Man Fong’s links to the airy and lyrical brushwork of the Chinese ink masters even whilst painting with oil.

Other exceptional works in the modern section of the sale include Lavenderas (estimate: HK$300,000-500,000 / US$38,500-64,100), considered one of the earliest works of a Philippine subject matter in extant from Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (1892-1972); Maternité (estimate: HK$600,000-800,000 / US$76,900 -102,600) by Franco-Vietnamese modern painter Le Pho (1907-France 2001) depicting the artist’s favourite and most accomplished subject matter – motherhood; as well as a rare to market Le Pho lacquer, Les éternités (Eternities) (estimate: HK$700,000-800,000 / US$89,700-102,600).

Image: Nyoman Masriadi, Man from Bantul, acrylic on canvas, 78 3/4 x 59 in.(200 x 150 cm.). Estimate: HK$500,000–700,000/US$64,100–89,700. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010.

Category: Auction News

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