Fine art auctioneers, Bonhams, will hold two modern and contemporary art auctions in Hong Kong this fall – Modern and Contemporary Art on 3rd October, and Prints, Photographs and Works on Paper on 14th November.
The Modern and Contemporary Art sale, in particular, will consist of some 88 pieces that collectively trace the development of Asian modern and contemporary art, and encourage a comprehensive reassessment of Asian art traditions in the context of a globalised discussion on modernism and its legacy.
According to Magnus Renfrew, Deputy Chairman, Asia and Director of Fine Arts, the sale puts as much emphasis on quality as quantity, and the auction will be showcased in a curatorial format to put the spotlight on artists whose works have delivered strong and consistent results in the auction market, and also works of up-and-coming artists.
Yun Gee (Zhu Yuanzhi, 1906-1963)
Lady in Pink Hat, circa 1920; s oil on paper board HK$400,000-600,000
It is no secret that Asian art as a whole has undergone major developments in the last century, and the development of Asian modern and contemporary art, in particular, is even more recent, with roots extending only to the beginning of the 20th century. A lot of the art has also been heavily influenced by Western representations of art and Western notions of beauty.
Unlike artists of yore, who have restricted access to the world, contemporary Asian artists today are researching, referencing, creating and proliferating in a highly cross-cultural and international context. And as a result, the Westernization of traditional art forms and the development of art from its classicist to abstract days can be almost considered a natural progression.
Terence Teo Chin Keong, curator and owner of art gallery Cape of Good Hope at Hill Street, says that a lot of art from Singapore, for instance, now invariably blends influences from the East and the West, given the easy access these days to art of all styles and from regions. “Interacting with artists from other countries over a period of time and paying attention to their techniques and what they do, are factors that have contributed to the growths of the artists,” he adds.
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Oil No. 19 , 1997 ; oil on canvas
Currently, the auction market focuses on two major trends: artists whose works are competing in the international art arena, and artists whose works who are contributing to dialogue on the re-assessment of Asian art history.
“With boundaries between countries and continents slowly disappearing in the era of globalisation and the internet age, collectors have to keep track of an international market brimming with myriad perspectives”, adds Renfrew.
Highlights of the sale from Singapore artists include:
Cai Guo-Qiang (born in 1957)
Escalator: Explosion for Pompidou, 2003; fireworks, paper
Cheong Soo Pieng (Zhong Sibin, 1917-1983)
Silence, 1966; oil on canvas
Cheong Soo Pieng was one of Singapore’s pioneer artists and a leading figure of the Nanyang Style, a style which was not so much rooted in the application of a new technique so much as a blending of multiple stylistic elements. Evocative of hanging scrolls, in “Silence”, oil is used like an ink wash to create a soft atmospheric abstract effect of air and water, a backdrop of paint punctuated by the sparse back calligraphic strokes of kampung huts.
Kim Lim (1936-1997)
Untitled Relief, 1983; Portland stone
Taking abstraction further and sculpting stone to create a sense of lightness is the late Singapore-born British sculptor Kim Lim whose work “Untitled Relief” can reference either the past, present or future. Kim Lim’s works can be found in the collections The Tate Gallery London and The National Museum of Art Singapore.
Jane Lee (Li Lingxuan, born 1963)
Untitled, 2013; acrylic paint and heavy gel on canvas
Singaporean contemporary artist Jane Lee pushes the boundaries of technique, medium and subject. In “Untitled”, one sees abstract forms and blossoming flowers emanating as they form. In this work, she had applied strips of paint on glass, and when this had dried, peeled it off by rolling it, and subsequently cut and formed them into miniature columns and rosettes on a flat surface. Jane’s work is represented by Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Hong Kong, New York and Singapore.