| Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art (Evening Sale), James Christie Room, November 24, 7pm |
| Asian 20th Century Art (Day Sale), James Christie Room, November 25, 10am |
| Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale), James Christie Room, November 25, 2:30pm |
Hong Kong – Christie’s Hong Kong will present its autumn 2012 auctions of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art on November 24 and 25. Offering over 590 works valued in excess of HK$463 million/US$59 million, the sales will present collectors with a broad range of works that trace the artistic achievement in Asian modern and contemporary art. Diverse in subject matter, styles and techniques, yet grounded in distinctly Asian artistic sensibilities, this season will introduce a curated selection of abstract, portrait and landscape paintings by Asian modernist masters to avant-garde and cutting-edge contemporary talents. This season, Christie’s will present works by Sanyu, Chu Teh-Chun, Yoshitomo Nara, Affandi and more: artists chosen for their originality, sophistication, and distinctive interpretation of cultural values and aesthetics unique to Eastern art. By showcasing this particular selection of artists, Christie’s aims to illuminate the diversified themes within Asian art and reflect on the ways in which the dialogue between the East and the West remains an ongoing source of inspiration to artists around the world.
The strength of Asian art lies in its distinct aesthetic values and unique cultural context. Eastern traditional art is not founded in a literal representation of the material world, but rather in the artist’s individual interpretation of reality. This understanding is illustrated through brushstrokes that express both the spirit and essence of form, and induce an emotional response in the viewer. Many internationally recognized Asian artists demonstrate the diversified elements, which arise in response to cultural exchange with the West. In the future, Asian contemporary art will become a globally recognized dialogue through which artists challenge boundaries and communicate universally recognized themes. This transformation will engage the international market and provide a new way for collectors to appreciate and reinterpret the meaning of Asian contemporary art.
Eric Chang, International Director of Christie’s Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art, says “The strong results achieved in spring 2012 illustrate the confidence of the global market and continued demand for Asian art. A decade ago, we were the first auction house to integrate our regional Asia sale sites into a comprehensive international platform in Hong Kong. By showcasing a select group of Asian modern and contemporary works that illustrate the perpetual exchange between the East and the West, Christie’s presents an innovative way of looking at the new face of Asian art, illuminating its unique aesthetic values to an international audience.”
This season, Christie’s specialists in Hong Kong and New York have come together to discuss highlights from the upcoming auctions of Post-War & Contemporary Art and Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art, bringing the concept of a cross-cultural artistic dialogue into focus. In the film, “The Art World Becomes One,” Eric Chang, International Director of Asian 20th & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong, Robert Manley, International Director and Specialist Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York, and Koji Inoue, Specialist Head of Evening Sales of Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York, compare select Asian works with Western sale highlights from a similar period and shed light on art’s role in bringing together the world’s diverse cultures. Click here to watch the video “The Art World Becomes One.
Click here to view a timeline of milestones in Christie’s Hong Kong Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Department.
MODERN ASIAN ABSTRACTION: AN AESTHETIC DISCOURSE BETWEEN THE EAST & THE WEST
The East and West have engaged in a complex and inspiring dialogue throughout art history. A number of modern and contemporary Asian artists have integrated Eastern aesthetic traditions and their unique cultural history with modern sensibilities and a Western style, creating their own interpretation of abstract art. Zao Wou-Ki, one of the most celebrated 20th century Chinese artists, finds his roots in traditional Song and Yuan dynasty landscape paintings and reinterprets their aesthetic essence, incorporating Western artistic techniques in handling colour, light and shadow. In his painting titled 15.05.60, the artist’s cross-cultural vision renders a unique form of expression, focused on representing the nuances of changing space, nature, light and dark.
Chu Teh-Chun’s La forêt blanche II combines the Chinese ink wash painting tradition with the Western medium of oil painting, transforming an ethereal scene of snow-covered mountains into a wash of richly saturated colours and dynamic brushstrokes that at once evokes classical calligraphy. In Abstract Triptych, Singaporean artist Cheong Soo Pieng reinterprets the artistic elements of balance, form and composition through his energized brushstrokes contrasted against a vibrant orange and black background. The inclusion of symbols and motifs and the use of unusual colours across a variety of mediums are increasingly common in Asian contemporary paintings. Examples include Cai Guoqiang’s Man, Eagle and Eye in the Sky: Eye-Kite Flying People and Nam Kwan’s Untitled, all of which illustrate this inspirational conversation between artists from the East and West.
BREAKING NEW GROUND: EXPLORING THE DEPTHS & POSSIBILITIES OF COLOUR & FORM
Western art traditionally focuses on the presentation of reality through use of symbols and colour, while classical Eastern art emphasizes the expression of inner emotions and spiritual responses to life experiences. Applying a delicate technique known as frosting to thick layers of oil pigments in his painting Suzhou Landscape, Chen Yifei depicts a river scene bathed in the misty light of dawn. The artist deliberately avoids a realistic depiction in lieu of conveying an ephemeral representation from memory. Qiu Ti’s West Lake in Autumn allows viewers to travel through time to experience the West Lake in Hangzhou as the artist once experienced it. The vivid choice in colour and depiction of light in Qiu Ti’s painting is directly influenced by Post-Impressionist Art. Only 28 pieces of the artist’s works remain and this work is Qiu's only surviving landscape painting.
Affandi’s Kolektor Dari Bali (The Collector from Bali) and Sanyu’s Pot de chrysanthèmes roses both reflect the inner emotional responses of the artists to their subject matter. Affandi's eye for detail and skilled rendering of the human form is second to none, and in this commissioned work, the relationship between the artist and the subject is not a simple matter of buying and selling; rather, it involves an exchange of faith. In his poetic still life, Sanyu’s infuses the classical subject matter and spirit of the Eastern painting tradition with modern forms and Western aesthetic ideals. The use of the black background is a reference to traditional ink painting, while the artist’s combination of both thick and dry oil paints imitates the different types of brushstrokes within the classical medium. The refined details of the chrysanthemum blossoms allude to his inner joy and appreciation of life.
CULTURAL SYMBOLS IN THE NEW CHINESE REALISM
Many great artists strive to produce works that represent or respond to the social issues of the day. The following artists aim not only to create exceptional works of art, but to also express their present society’s psychology and distinct cultural identity, offering viewers insight into the ways in which these artists uncovered new terrain between traditions of Western and Eastern art. Drawing from diverse strains of tradition and modernity, these pioneering artists hunt for unique forms of expression firmly rooted in Chinese culture and responses to a new era.
In Zeng Fanzhi’s Mask Series, the artist incorporates symbols to reflect his views towards social and political issues, such as looming ocean waves, sharks that denote danger, and lit cigars representative of the artist’s anxiety and feelings of disillusionment. Standing before a deliberately artificial backdrop and wearing masks to hide their true expressions, the artist’s expressive brushstrokes of the two figures’ flesh coupled with the ominous imagery offer a dynamic depiction of the artifice and aspirations inherent to China’s new generations. In his painting 2001 No.8, Zhang Xiaogang presents two figures without clothing, using their nakedness as a metaphor for liberation from political suppression. In his painting Untitled illustrating a girl playing guitar, Yoshitomo Nara communicates his affinity towards the rebel spirit of rock’ n roll and independent attitude towards society’s conventions. Ronald Ventura’s Crossed Trip from his Humanime Series portrays unexpected juxtapositions of images and emotions, exploring the concept of identity and the conflict between mundane reality and fantasy.
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