HONG KONG - Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2014 will take place from 4 to 8 October at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Marking the 10th anniversary of the department’s establishment at Sotheby’s, Contemporary Asian Art is proud to present a stellar line-up of important works in both Day and Evening Sales this autumn. Highlights of the season include 37 museum-quality contemporary Chinese masterpieces from the esteemed collection of Guy and Myriam Ullens de Schooten (separate press release available upon request), renowned Contemporary Chinese artist Liu Xiaodong’s socially-charged realist painting Disobeying the Rules, as well as the Evening Sale debut of works by young artists led by Jia Aili. Together, the two sales will offer approximately 240 lots, estimated in excess of HK$300 million / US$38 million.
Evelyn Lin, Head of Contemporary Asian Art Department at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, said: “In the ten years since the establishment of Contemporary Asian Art Department at Sotheby’s, the growth of this particular auction market has been phenomenal, not only in terms of the prices achieved but also the increasing variety and quantity of properties on offer, demonstrating collectors’ diversifying tastes in the ever-expanding market. This autumn, the meticulously-sourced sales present the strongest selection of works in recent years, both in terms of quality and quantity. We are honoured to be entrusted once again by Guy and Myriam Ullens de Schooten with 37 fresh-to-the- market works from their collection of important contemporary Chinese art, and thrilled to add to the sale Disobeying the Rules, a significant piece by Liu Xiaodong. We are also committed to introducing quality works by young artists from the region including those by Jia Aili, Wang Jianwei and Wang Guangle, as we aim to expand the horizons of Sotheby’s collectors. A special section on Korean Abstract art will be presented in the Day Sale, focusing on important artists such as Rhee Seundja, Kim Whanki and Lee Ufan.”
I. HIGHLIGHTS FROM MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ASIAN ART – EVENING SALE (5 OCT)
Liu Xiaodong (b. 1963), Disobeying the Rules 1996, oil on canvas, 180 x 230 cm Estimate upon request
Created in 1996, Disobeying the Rules is one of Liu Xiaodong’s most representative works and one of his earliest paintings to thematise migrant workers and express his social concern. Disobeying the Rules depicts a large group of naked migrant workers on a truck, connecting their condition with the Chinese people’s general lack of self- determination. Responding to the economic development of the 1990s, Liu’s work reflects the helplessness of the bottom-rung workers. The gas cans on the truck are vessels, representing the burdens of life. Fate has pushed these migrant workers to dangerous extremes, and all they can manage is to smile meekly. Through a scene filled with conflict, Liu records the psychological state of a generation of Chinese and, in a powerfully resonant way, invites viewers to meditate on the lessons therein. Exhibited widely, including turns at the 1997 Venice Biennale and the 1998 group exhibition Representing People in the United Kingdom, this masterpiece is a robust representation of the artist’s body of work.
Yue Minjun (b. 1962), Great Joy 1993, oil on canvas, 182.4 x 251.9 cm Est. HK$7 – 9 million / US$905,000 – 1.2 million
Jokes and mockery as reflected by smiling faces have always been central to Yue Minjun’s oeuvre. As a key figure from the renowned ‘Cynical Realism’ current, Yue’s works reflect the helplessness Chinese society felt with regard to social and political realities in the early 1990s. The politically-charged Great Joy attests to the pervasive irony and political turmoil that seeped through the general Chinese society at that time. An ‘army’ of smiling men donning non-descript grey sweaters and black pants is seen stationing in front of the Tiananmen Square in a wedge formation; the rostrum of Tiananmen is almost hidden behind this mass gathering, only showing a glimpse of the orange glazed tiles of the roof, behind which hangs a fading rainbow from above. It is almost impossible to find any traces of Tiananmen Square in the artist’s later works, and the scale of the repeated figures in the present work is also unprecedented among Yue’s oeuvre, both of which add to Great Joy’s rarity and importance.
Classics By Contemporary Japanese and Korean Masters
Contemporary Asian Art will present a series of works by Japanese and Korean masters in the Evening Sale, including an abstract foot-painting Saigō by Kazuo Shiraga, created at the seminal period of the artist’s career; Pumpkin (DFLO), a large-format work by Yayoi Kusama depicting her favourite subject; as well as Lee Ufan’s From Point, a key work created during a transformative phase. Together, these works showcase the essence and diversity of contemporary Japanese and Korean art.
• Kazuo Shiraga (1924 – 2008), Saigō 2000, oil on canvas, 182 x 259.4 cm Est. HK$10 – 15 million / US$1.3 – 1.9 million
• Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Pumpkin (DFLO) 2013, acrylic on canvas, 130.5 x 162.3 cm Est. HK$4.8 – 6.8 million / US$620,000 – 880,000
• Lee Ufan (b. 1936), From Point 1979, mineral pigment and glue on canvas, 97.4 x 130.5 cm Est. HK$4 – 6 million / US$520,000 – 775,000
II. HIGHLIGHTS FROM CONTEMPORARY ASIAN ART DAY SALE (6 OCT)
Zhou Chunya (b. 1955) Peach Blossom (diptych) 2011, oil on canvas 100 x 360 cm Est. HK$5 – 6 million / US$650,000 – 775,000
An unusually large diptych measuring 3.6 metres wide, Peach Blossom is a highlight from Zhou Chunya’s ‘Blossom’ series, which has been hugely popular with collectors. The current work depicts a majestic peach tree in full bloom, displaying an exuberant spirit full of vitality as thick floral branches reach outwards from the centre of the painting, with its beauty both sensual and alluring. For the artist, peach blossom is a reflection of primitive human desires. When transferred onto the canvas, the theme is transformed into a vibrant glow of jade green and pink. Infusing human emotions with nature, Peach Blossom offers the viewer an alternative perspective into the inner world of landscape and natural scenery.
Wang Jianwei (b. 1958), Eternity 1989, oil on canvas, 141.6 x 109.6 cm Est. HK$600,000 – 1 million / US$78,000 – 130,000
This season, Sotheby’s has assembled a group of works by Wang Jianwei from different stages of his career including an oil painting, video works and a photograph. Created in 1990, Eternity is from the artist’s renowned ‘Teahouse’ series, and was exhibited in 1991 at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. The ‘Teahouse’ series originated from the Sichuan teahouses with which Wang is familiar. Like the cafés of France or pubs of the United Kingdom, teahouses are microcosms of society whose visitors symbolise Chinese life under economic reform. In Eternity, Wang creates a mismatched space in which people from different times coexist; a colorful female nude sits next to the tea-drinker while a historical personage in red is on the right, suggesting the acceleration of time in modern China. This work employs the official academic style of realism, but mixes into it surrealism and abstract figuration. Wang’s solo exhibition ‘Wang Jianwei: Time Temple’, opening at the Guggenheim Museum in New York this October, is set to become the focus of contemporary Chinese art scene.
Zhao Zhao (b. 1982), How 2014, dismantled wooden Buddha sculpture wrapped in gold leaf, arranged into 258 geometric shapes, nine photos Various dimensions Est. HK$1.8 – 2.2 million / US$233,000 – 284,000
Zhao Zhao is a young conceptual Chinese artist who has garnered much attention in recent years. Born in 1982 in Xinjiang’s Shihezi, Zhao was once Ai Weiwei’s studio assistant. He began to release solo works in 2007. In the present work How, the artist sawed and polished a 200-year-old Shakyamuni Buddha into 258 geometric shapes with the help of seven woodworkers, covering each of them with gold leaves. How has been exhibited at Platform China (Hong Kong) from 7 May to 7 July 2014, and will now be offered at Sotheby's Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2014 to mark the completion of the piece. Composed of 258 gold-leaf-wrapped pieces and nine photos in 40 x 60 cm, How explores the relationship between the production system of contemporary art and traditional culture.