Christie’s Hong Kong Asian Contemporary Art Spring Sales

Christie’s Hong Kong Evening and Day sales of Asian Contemporary Art on 29 May and 30 May in Hong Kong will bring together the dynamic worlds of contemporary art from China, Japan, Korea and India. Christie’s continues to offer a platform showcasing the best in contemporary and Chinese 20th Century art from these countries, and this season will present over 480 works with a pre-sale estimate in excess of HK$260 million (US$30 million). Diverse in subject matter, styles and techniques, and yet distinctly Asian in artistic temperament, these works present a regional view of contemporary Asia. With the careful and expert selection of Christie’s global specialists, the works in this sale cater to the broad tastes of collectors from around the world.

An Iconic Work from Andy Warhol – A first for Christie’s in Hong Kong

Andy Warhol’s Mao series is considered his most important statement of the 1970s. After years of a self-imposed hiatus from art-making, Warhol read in the press that Chairman Mao was the most famous living person, inspiring him to return to his studio and add the Great Helmsman to his pantheon of “superstars”, alongside his then already famous portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor. Warhol’s choice of Mao as a subject had nothing to do with any great political intention, but because of the larger-than-life status Mao held in his own country and abroad. Christie’s is proud to include this rare, complete set of 10 screenprints, complete with the original cardboard box, in this season’s Evening Sale, marking the first time a work of Western contemporary art will be offered at Christie’s Hong Kong. The arrival of Warhol signals not only the enormous influence Warhol has had on contemporary art, but suggests the multiplicity of visions and voices that have brought us to a truly global contemporary art, reaffirming the ways in which the innovation and creativity of Asian artists have brought them to the forefront of the contemporary art world. (estimate: HK$3,000,000 – 5,000,000 / US$384,600 – 641,000).

Contemporary Chinese Avant-Garde

Contemporary Chinese avant-garde art emerged from an extraordinary set of historical and cultural circumstances, leading to one of the most radical breaks with art history and tradition in recent memory. After three decades under Chairman Mao’s rule, by the 1980s, large volumes of Western publications were translated into Chinese, bringing an influx of new ideas on modern art and giving birth to the 1985 ‘New Wave’ art movement. Young artists, stirred by the influence of various schools in Western art, began to adopt new creative ideas to revitalize Chinese contemporary art and culture, sparking intense intellectual debates, particularly with respect to the issue of establishing new artistic vocabularies, styles, and techniques that were reflective of contemporary Chinese experience. Liberated from the politicized strictures of Socialist Realism and academic art, their investigations into art-making, history, and identity were deepened not only by the Tian’anmen Square Incident in 1989, but by China’s rapid path of modernization and the emergence of a flourishing consumer culture, and the related transformation of everyday life. The powerful artistic expressions that emerged were familiar and yet strange, humorous and poetic, ironically dispassionate and ideologically strident. This furious outpouring of creativity and innovation established Chinese contemporary art as one of the most compelling areas of art-making in the contemporary art world.

Japanese Contemporary Art

Japanese contemporary art emerged as a result of cultural and political changes in the post World War II era, where rapid social changes ensued and probed the nation to seek a new sense of identity in a time of revolution. Through an examination of contemporary Japanese art, we find a deeply personal exploration that often results in surreal and deeply imaginative works of provocative themes, executed with bold colours and diverse mediums. They are also equally infused with elements of classical calligraphy and nihonga (Japanese ink painting) in the delicate use of line and spatial perspective, a unique expressive and visual demonstration of their acceptance of Japan’s modernization and an effort of smoothly integrate Western, contemporary and historic ideals.

Korean Contemporary Art

A country that underwent rapid progression since the Japanese colonialism, Korea’s receptivity to globalization is what bred the diversity seen in Korean contemporary art. The increasingly hybrid culture of contemporary society seeking to balance and preserve their valuable past and traditions, while advocating for rapid modernization to find economical and national independence, is what distinguishes the Korean cultural identity and forms a core theme explored by its contemporary artists.

Korean artists are celebrated for their exceptional technical abilities, experimentation with materials and hyperrealistic paintings. While Korean artists explore traditional principles, their subject matter remains simply modern in outlook, as they respond to current issues such as globalization, existentialism, alienation and the everyday experience. Kang’s persuasive illustrations simulate a sense of reality and presence parallel to technology’s ability to provide an illusion of reality through its televised and electronic images, both Paik Nam June and Kim Dong Yoo recognizes this historical significance and exploits its implications for the changing media environment and technological development.