A wealth of significant contemporary art on offer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2007, 12:00am

Younger Chinese artists are coming to the fore as collectors have turned their attention to finding works with 'unique historical and artistic value'.

Auction house Sotheby's Hong Kong will hold its Contemporary Chinese Art Autumn Sale on Sunday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. It will comprise modern and contemporary sections, offering more than 200 lots estimated to fetch HK$150million to HK$210 million - not including buyer's premium.

'With the contemporary art market in the greater Asian Diaspora experiencing continued growth, collectors have become more sophisticated, seeking works of unique historical and artistic value rather than simply newsworthy names,' said Evelyn Lin, Sotheby's head of contemporary Chinese art for China and Southeast Asia.

'With this in mind, we look forward to our most exciting and largest auction yet, featuring exemplary pieces by both established and younger artists.'

Among the featured artists is Cai Guoqiang, whose work has been exhibited at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Shanghai Art Museum, and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Guggenheim Museum will host a retrospective exhibition of his work next year, and he has been commissioned to produce an installation for the Beijing Olympic Games' opening ceremony.

A highlight of the Contemporary Chinese Art sale in Hong Kong will be Cai's Project for Extraterrestrials No10: Project to Extend the Great Wall of China executed in gunpowder on paper.

Cai first explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, and continued to experiment by focusing on explosions in his paintings. This led to the development of his signature explosion events. One piece, which will be on sale this weekend, reflects and records an explosion in 1993 at Jiayuguan where the Great Wall ends.

The Massacre at Chios, by Yue Minjun, draws inspiration from the 1824 masterpiece of the same name by the French painter Eugene Delacroix. By directly referring to the original painting, Yue earns his reputation as one of the great 'cynical realists'.

All eyes will be on the price this piece fetches following the record-breaking sale of Yue's The Pope (1997) in June last year at Sotheby's London for about HK$33 million.

This sale also features Xu Bing's Silkworm Series - The Foolish Old Man Who Tried to Remove the Mountain, estimated at HK$3million to HK$3.5million. The three panels of text covered in silkworm cocoons are a nod to the writings of Mao Zedong that Xu was incorporating into his calligraphic works.

Three works by Zeng Fanzhi, one of the most important artists from the post-1989 generation, are also expected to interest collectors. Critics say Mask Series No.27 marks a new stage in the 42-year-old artist's development.

Zhang Xiaogang and Wang Guangyi, two of the best-known artists working in the mainland today, are represented in this sale by works completed in the early years of their careers. Zhang's 1989 canvas Tomorrow Will Be Brighter (estimated at HK$5million to HK$6million) and Wang's Red Rationality: Revision of the Idols (estimated at HK$4million to HK$6million) are set to gather strong interest from collectors of modern Chinese art.

The Modern Chinese Art portion of this sale offers 61 lots of work by modern masters, among them Chu Tehchun, Pang Xunqing, Zao Wouki, and Zhu Ming. Of the four works offered by Chu in this auction, there are two rare paintings featuring snow: Evocation Hivernale C (estimated at HK$6million to HK$8million), and Transparence Glacier (estimated at HK$1million to HK$1.5million).

Preview: October 4-6, 10am-6.30pm. Auction: October 7, 11am and 2:30pm; Hall 2 B (New Wing), Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai