Spectacular collection on offer at spring sale

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am

Auction house promises to exhibit a strong and exceptional lineup of more than 1,700 pieces, including contemporary Southeast Asian paintings

There are few things in life that bring together a collage of perfection as effortlessly as the Sotheby's spring sales. This year's event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will be no exception with the auction house's spectacular lineup of rare Chinese precious metalwork and ceramics, fine modern and contemporary Chinese paintings, breathtaking jewels and important timepieces, promising to impress collectors.

More than 1,700 items, with an estimated value of HK$1.5billion, will be publicly exhibited in Hong Kong from April5 to 10, with the auctions to be held on April8 to 11.

'We shall be offering a strong and exceptional lineup of objects which are extraordinary in terms of both their freshness to the market as well as their superb craftsmanship,' said Kevin Ching, chief executive of Sotheby's Asia.

This year marks the first sale of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian paintings in Hong Kong. The sale had been relocated from Singapore as part of Sotheby's worldwide strategy of sourcing globally and selling centrally, explained Mr Ching, noting that this would ensure even greater international exposure and success.

The sale will feature more than 180 works by renowned artists from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam with sales expected to reach over HK$40 million. 'Demand for contemporary Southeast Asian paintings has grown from strength to strength over the years,' said Mok Kim Chuan, Sotheby's head of Southeast Asian paintings.

'Part of the popularity is due to the rapid rise of contemporary Chinese art. Now, more collectors are looking towards the region and catching on to Southeast Asian art. The collectors are mainly from the region, but recently collectors from around the world have been active, including those from Europe, India, even interest from the Ukraine. Taiwanese and mainland Chinese have also shown increasing interest in the field.'

Notable works include the first theme sale featuring a collection of Vietnamese paintings, which includes an important private collection from Philip Ng. A highlight of the sale is Vu Cao Dam's Conversation d'elegantes au jardin (A Conversation Amongst Elegant Ladies in a Garden). An important art connoisseur from Asia, Mr Ng's collection, includes works by such celebrated artists as Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam, and Mai Trung Thu.

'The potential of the Southeast Asian art market is positive. It is such a diverse field due to the number of different cultural backgrounds represented. This diversity allows for a number of unique approaches and common socioeconomic themes. The appeal lies in its freshness, both in technique and media as well as subject matter,' Mr Mok said.

Moving beyond Southeast Asia, the contemporary Chinese art sale is equally impressive with over 270 works on the auction block. Taiwanese artist Guo Bochuan's The Forbidden City is garnering attention. It is one of few paintings by the artist depicting Beijing before the establishment of the People's Republic of China, when western philosophy was more prominent, to have survived the Cultural Revolution. The estimated price tag: HK$30million to HK$40million.

What makes it all the more extraordinary is the manner in which Guo has combined the spirit of Chinese and western painting techniques. Drawn from a vantage point in the renowned Jingshan Park, the work shows the artist's trademark calligraphic brushstrokes in his portrayal of the Forbidden City's striking red roof tiles.

The Estella Collection, the largest and most important group of Chinese contemporary art to be auctioned, will feature 110 works in traditional paintings, video installations, sculpture and photography, documenting social trends arising from recent moments in Chinese history through the eyes of prominent and emerging Chinese artists. Collectors will also be able to bid for an array of classical Chinese paintings, including Zhang Daqian's Hengguan Mountain Road; a splashed ink and colour on paper work and Li Keran's Waterfalls which evokes the beauty of the E Wei Mountain in China.

Offerings from the jewellery department will not disappoint with the sale of a flawless 91-carat diamond necklace, comprising 43 pear-shaped diamonds, and the first complete collection of Melo Pearl jewellery, including a necklace, ring and a pair of earrings, to be offered in an auction.

The brainchild of renowned Hong Kong designer Dickson Yewn, these orangy yellow pearls, found in the waters of the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal, are becoming increasingly rare due to worsening pollution problems.

Highlights from Legacy of a Collector, the season's watch auction, will include the sale of the most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch.