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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Paintings Auction

Christie’s Fall sale of Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art will be held on November 30 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Featuring over 90 exceptional works with an estimate of HK$18 million, this sale will showcase a tightly-edited selection of outstanding paintings by key Southeast Asian modern masters including Indonesian artists Hendra Gunawan, Affandi, S. Sudjojono, Lee Man Fong, Filipino artists Vincente Manansala, Fernando Zobel and Franco-Vietnamese artist Le Pho, as well as a choice lineup of contemporary works by I Nyoman Masriadi, Yunizar and Bencab and others. A cross-section of Singaporean modern and contemporary art by David Chan, Jason Lim and Jason Wee and modernist Chen Wen Hsi will be presented, as well as a rare oil-on-board work by Cheong Soo Pieng.

Zao Wou-KiThe artistic acclaim of Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur De Merprès as a tropical Impressionist is well illustrated in Balinese beauties on the shore (estimate: HK$1,500,000 – 2,500,000 / US$192,300 – 320,500), a piece from the painter’s celebrated Balinese oeuvre. Dating to an earlier period in this series, the artist’s search for the essence of the tropics led him to observe and paint open expanses of sky, under which he began to consolidate his study of figures and poses which would eventually come together into the archetypal Balinese beauties of his later works. The very heart of Mayeur’s inspirations – sunlight and the Balinese feminine physique – are well encapsulated in this picture. Balinese beauties on the shore was formerly in the collection of Sir Roland Braddell, a prominent lawyer and collector of art and ceramics.

Dated 1948, Man with horses (estimate: HK$280,000 – 350,000 / US$35,900 – 44,900) is a finely worked and superlative example from Lee Man Fong’s early compositions. Suffused with atmospheric pathos and a light and elegant draughtsmanship that defines the best of Lee Man Fong’s works, Man with horses exudes a strong sense of the theatrical, balanced by the artist’s commitment to realism manifested in his familiar understanding of the subject matter and his adept handling of the brush.

“I used bright colours and geometric shapes to create a melody”, so said Vincente Manansala, one of the Philippines’ foremost exponents of an adapted Cubist painting style. Musicians (estimate: HK$600,000 – 800,000 / US$76,900 – 102,600) is the immediate embodiment of the most cherished values of the painter. The depiction of a band of musicians marries the lyrical nature of the subject with the artist’s visually pleasing Cubism, where images are transposed into geometric multi-faceted forms on continually shifting and overlapping planes. A gift of the artist to close friend, Abbott W. Lighter, this work boasts excellent provenance and is fresh to market.

From an important Indonesian private collection, Widayat’s Flora (estimate: HK$350,000-500,000 / US$44,900 – 64,100) is the artist’s visual paean to the bounty of Nature and the efflorescence of life. Completed in 1975, Flora forms part of Widayat’s celebrated flora and fauna series. Here, the artist’s depiction of luxuriant tropical flora and fauna as a symbol of manifest abundance is highly refined and nuanced. The distribution of pleasing forms and colours seen in Flora is accomplished with the typical flair and finesse of the artist whose oeuvre has carved out a particular genre of magical decorative expression in modern Indonesian art.

Two Saetas (Estimate: HK$550,000 – 700,000 / US$70,500 – 89,700) from Filipino abstractionist Fernando Zóbel are presented as a single property this season. Originally gifts from the artist to poet John Frederick Nims and his wife Bonnie Larkin Nims, the two paintings are accompanied by a set of correspondences between Zóbel and the Nims from 1959 to 1983. Seen as a pair, the two paintings display contrasting and complimentary ranges of emotion and tone. Saeta #83 suggests a crisis of escape from darkness, while Aranda (Saeta #266) emanates revelation and spiritual communion. Saeta #83 was included in Zóbel’s critically acclaimed Madrid exhibition of 1959, and also reproduced in the first monograph published on the artist, Zóbel: Pintura y Dibujos.

Other highlights ? Works from Indonesian masters Affandi, Hendra Gunawan and S. Sudjojono and Franco- Vietnamese Le Pho will be featured alongside fresh-to market works of exceptional quality from Thai artist Damrong Wong-Uparaj and Malaysian artists Ibrahim Hussein.

Southeast Asian COntemporary Art
Master Yoga (estimate: HK$650,000 – 1,000,000 / US$83,300 – 128,200) is a quirky and highly original piece from one of Indonesia’s top contemporary panter, I Nyoman Masriadi. This work illustrates how he employs painting as a language to articulate, respond, criticise and satirise. The figure’s firm, unflinching glance at the viewer and the sheer impossibility of his arched posture belies an undertone of self-confidence. Supported literally on two cars which are potent symbols of conspicuous consumption, the painting functions as a spoken language for the painter; Master Yoga is Masriadi’s brazen retort to the conventional notion of artists as struggling and starving romantic idealists.

The single pictorial subject in Indonesian painter Yunizar’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi (estimate: HK$240,000 – 400,000 / US$30,800 – 51,300) is a colossal structure of architectonic perfection. Rendered by repetitious and tightly controlled thick and broad strokes in a multitude of varying planes and diagonal and perspectival lines, the monumental structure is cast powerfully and centrally. The verdant green and sky blue background creates an atmosphere of child-like innocence and hopefullness, an allusion to the painter’s optimism. Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi is one of only two known paintings executed on this large scale by the artist to date.

Pose no. 4: Sofa (estimate: HK$240,000 – 300,000 / US$30,800 – 38,500) comes from the Pose series of six sofa paintings executed in 2004 where Indonesian artist Handiwirman Saputra explores the tactile relationship between two objects – a recognisable and commonplace object – a sofa – and a unrecognisable amorphous form perched on it. Handiwirman paints the objects with meticulous care, seeking to evoke and enjoy their presences as simply objects – objects with a certain physicality and material presence. Another piece from the series, Pose no, 6: Sofa, offered in Christie’s in May 2008, was the first Handiwirman painting to surpass the US$100,000 mark at auction.

Best known for his dark and atmospheric figurative paintings, Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s Tales from a primordial garden (estimate: HK$85,000 – 140,000 / US$10,900 – 17,900) is a work that illustrates the Malaysian artist at his best in his favoured medium of charcoal. Showing the image of a man laid down in deep repose and a stag watchfully near, the work comments on the bestiality of humankind and speaks of the transmutability of desire between Man and Animal.

Other highlights ?Also included are high-quality works by Indonesian artist Christine Ay Tjoe, and a set of prints from Philippine photographer Emmanuel Santo’s ongoing photographic series, Passing of Light II: Book of Illumination, as well as representative works from emerging Thai contemporary artists.

Image: Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji, b. 1920), 25-09-69, signed ‘Wou-Ki Zao’ in Chinese & Pinyin (lower right); signed ‘ZAO Wou-Ki’ in Pinyin; dated ‘25.9.69’ (on the reverse), oil on canvas, 146 x 97 cm. Painted in 1969. Estimate: US$897,400. Photo: ©Christie’s Images Ltd 2009