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Western and Asian Contemporary Art to Be Offered by Seoul Auction
Ron Arad, "Blo Void 1". 203.2 x 43.2 x 101.6 cm.
HONG KONG.- Seoul Auction, Korea‟s leading auction house, will offer an unrivalled selection of 80 works in its Modern and Contemporary Art Spring Sale in Hong Kong on 4 April 2010 at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. Expected to realize in excess of HK$60 million (US$8 million), the sale features works by leading Western and Asian masters, as well as up and coming artists from Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia, reflecting the dynamic vibrancy of contemporary Asian art.

Mr Jun Lee, CEO of Seoul Auction, said: “In our debut sale in Hong Kong in October 2008, Seoul Auction played a pioneering role when we offered significant Western masterpieces, as well as Asian artworks, at auction for the first time. In view of the appetite of discerning Asian collectors with sophisticated tastes, our strategy has been to introduce a wider variety of artworks by internationally renowned artists to the Asian marketplace. In our October 2009 sale, The Importance of Elsewhere –The Kingdom of Heaven from the renowned British artist Damien Hirst‟s celebrated Butterfly Series achieved HK$17,222,000 (US$2,236,623), establishing a record as the most expensive work by Damien Hirst ever sold at auction in Asia. In the same auction, we also brought to the Asian auction market for the first time a remarkable work Untitled by the UK-based Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor which realized HK$6,508,000 (US$845,195).

“We are witnessing a growing interest and a greater level of appreciation of Western contemporary art among Asian collectors. Seoul Auction is proud to have a long history of over 10 years of selling Western art in Asia, and to have been the first auction house to bring Western contemporary art to Hong Kong. We are delighted to provide a platform and introduce a wider range of both Western and Asian art to Chinese connoisseurs.

“This Spring also marked a new milestone in the history of Seoul Auction as we held our first auction preview of our Hong Kong Sale in Beijing in March, in addition to our customary sale previews in Seoul and Taipei. We have seen a rapidly increasing interest in Western contemporary art within the past couple of years amongst collectors in Mainland China, and we believe that China is a highly significant market with vast potential for this collecting category.”

Western Art
A highlight of the sale is Eight, a monumental red and violet aluminium sculpture, measuring over 1.8 meters in height, by the American master painter, sculptor and printmaker Robert Indiana (born 1928). This is the first time an Eight sculpture from Indiana’s number series has ever been offered at any auction. The sculpture is No. 2 from Edition 6 of this numeral, created by Indiana between 1980 and 2001 (Estimate: HK$ 3,800,000–4,500,000/US$490,000–580,000) .

Indiana is widely recognized as a seminal figure in the Pop Art movement. He came to prominence in the 1960s, becoming famous for his simple, bold, geometric paintings and sculptures that incorporate graphic numbers and letters, and especially for his LOVE paintings and sculptures. LOVE, conceived during the Vietnam War, became a symbol for Peace. Thus, Indiana‟s work is not only concerned with form and colour, but also addresses politics and the human condition. A LOVE sculpture now graces two of the most prominent developments in Asia: Shinjuku I-Land Tower, the famous high-rise commercial building in Tokyo, and Taipei 101, the landmark skyscraper in Taipei.

In 1980-1982, Indiana created Numbers 0-9, an outdoor sculpture composed of 2-metre high, brightly painted numerical digits, each set on its own base, now displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Twenty years later in 2002, he made an aluminium sculpture for the lobby of Taipei 101 entitled 1-0, in which he employed multi-coloured numbers to suggest the conduct of world trade and the patterns of human life. He has always been fascinated by numbers which have featured among his most important works.

The number Eight has special appeal for the Chinese as it symbolizes good fortune and prosperity and is expected to arouse enormous interest in the sale.

Also on offer is Untitled 3, an important mixed media work by Donald Judd (1928-1994) (Estimate: HK$13,000,000-17,000,000/US$1,600,000-2,200,000). Judd began his career as a painter in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Abstract Expressionism was at its height in the New York art world. However, Judd wanted to move away from works that reflected the artist‟s emotional state, and also from devices such as spatial illusion and reference to figures or movements in his painting. Therefore in 1962 he decided to resolve these problems by working in three dimensions. First he took up sculpture with heavily textured monochrome reliefs. Then he began making the simple cubes or other geometric units that stand on the floor or are cantilevered from the wall, often in stacks or horizontal progressions. Such structures depended on mathematical systems and therefore avoided reference to composition.

At first Judd worked in materials such as plywood, concrete, painted steel and coloured Perspex or Plexiglas, but from 1964 he began making use of industrial fabrications in metal. The present lot is an outstanding example of his work that uses simple, often repeated forms to explore the use of space. Judd believed that art should not represent anything, it should stand on its own and simply exist.

Another highlight is Le Bouquet by Marc Chagall (1887-1985), a masterpiece by the Russian Jewish artist which has never before appeared at auction (Estimate on request). In the course of his long artistic career, Chagall created a highly imaginative and very personal style. Although he was influenced by, and assimilated into his work, certain aspects of modern art movements, including Cubism, Fauvism and Surrealism, his style remains independent of any one school of art. Above all, his work is rich in the imagery of the folklore of his native Russia and Jewish life, and often takes on the appearance of a dream-like fantasy. Chagall left a legacy of works that communicate happiness and optimism through fantastic compositions and vivid colours. He combined emotion and memory to create art with an unmistakable personal style and a universal quality.

Le Bouquet is a perfect example. If one looks at only the vase of flowers, it has the composition of a still-life painting. But with the addition of the lovers and the city, the work assumes a fantasy-like time and space. The flowers which cover almost all the surface are symbolic of Chagall‟s all-time theme of love. Painted in 1982, three years before his death, the work displays the maturity of old age and is impressive in its soft, sensuous brushstrokes. Here the magician of colours restrained his palette to make the red flowers and green leaves stand out more beautifully against a serene background and express his deep emotion.

Seoul Auction will offer a stunning piece Blo-Void 1 by Ron Arad (born 1951) (Estimate: HK$800,000–1,200,000/US$110,000-160,000), one of the most respected and influential designers working today. This is also the first time that a work by Ron Arad has ever appeared at auction in Asia. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Ron Arad was originally trained as an architect. He made his name in London in the early 1980s as a designer and maker of sculptural furniture. In Arad‟s view, there was no reason why the design of a chair should not be influenced by Picasso, or why it should not take advantage of the development of new materials. The first piece of furniture he produced was the now iconic Rover Chair. This was made from two found objects: the leather seat of a Rover car found in a scrap yard, mounted on a frame of Kee-Klamp scaffolding designed in the 1930s. Arad thus unconsciously combined design with ready-made Conceptual Art.

In his studio, Arad developed all kinds of materials and processes, from ready-mades and welded metal to Lucite, Corian, bronze or stainless steel, to plastics and rapid-prototyping. Ron Arad‟s creations are collected by design connoisseurs all over the world. Blo-Void 1 is an excellent example of his work, a typically fluid and sensuous sculpture made of painted aluminium, epitomizing Arad‟s characteristically free, curvaceous style.

A further highlight is an important oil painting Grün-Blau-Rot by Gerhard Richter (born 1932) (Estimate: HK$850,000-1,000,000/US$110,000-130,000).

Chinese Art
Leading the Chinese section is Girl and Peaches by Wang Yidong (born 1955), a significant figure in the history of modern Chinese realist painting (Estimate: HK$3,100,000-3,800,000/US$400,000-500,000). This is the first time that this masterpiece by Wang has been offered in the auction market. Wang Yidong‟s subject matter mainly derives from the village culture of the Yi-meng mountain region in his native Shandong province. Since the 1980s, Wang Yidong has sought to capture the life and customs of the region, reflecting the artist‟s pursuit of purity and timelessness through his dedicated portrayal of simple yet venerable human characters and their rituals. Girl and Peaches is a perfect example demonstrating Wang‟s mastery of composition, portrayal of light and his superb command of painting technique and capturing of details. The peaches on the table symbolize the girl‟s deliberation about marriage, which is a common theme employed by Wang. The slip of paper placed next to the peaches may very well be an amorous note from the young girl‟s beloved.

Also making its first appearance at auction is an important wooden sculpture from Zhu Ming‟s (b. 1938) Taichi Series (Estimate: HK$1,300,000-1,600,000/ US$170,000-210,000). Zhu Ming is renowned as Asia‟s most pre-eminent living sculptor, having forged a signature style that is recognized throughout the art world. He is best known for his iconic Taichi Series, powerful and often monumental figures in both wood and bronze, which were inspired by the ancient martial art of tai chi chuan and which celebrate both the physical and spiritual aspects of this age-old Asian practice. His timeless, universal Taichi sculptures are characterized by a sense of balance, control and gracefulness.

Another prized offering in the sale is Mask Series no.21 3-1 by Zeng Fanzhi (born 1964) who is recognized as one of the most iconic and expressive painters of the contemporary Chinese avant-garde art movement (Estimate: HK$1,100,000-1,300,000/US$140,000-170,000). In 1993, Zeng moved from his native Wuhan to Beijing and in 1994 embarked on his famous “Mask” series which expressed both his personal inner feelings of loneliness and isolation in a new big city, and the alienation of the individual in Chinese society in general. In this series of paintings, Zeng used expert line and brushwork to depict smartly dressed figures wearing white masks with blank expressions. He wished to express his feeling that in Beijing in the 1990s, people were starting to wear suits and ties, effecting an outward change into new social roles, but one which was artificial. Thrown into this new modern environment, individuals suffered feelings of social isolation and could not connect with each other. The mask is emblematic of the barrier between them. The number of people in the paintings is reduced to a small group, or a solitary person.

Other highlights include works by young emerging artists, including Happy Face by Gao Yu (Estimate: HK$150,000-180,000/US$20,000-24,000) and A Smooth Run by Chen Ke (Estimate: HK$300,000-400,000/ US$39,000-52,000).

Korean Art
Taking centre-stage in the Korean section is TV Cello by Nam June Paik (1932-2006) which has never before appeared in the auction market (Estimate: HK$1,500,000-2,000,000/US$190,000-260,000). Paik is universally regarded as the “father of video art” and one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century. His video sculptures, installations, performances and television productions constitute one of the most influential and significant bodies of work in this medium.

Born in Seoul in 1932 to a wealthy industrial family, Paik was trained as a classical pianist. Paik was greatly influenced by John Cage who, drawn by Eastern philosophy, believed that music is all around us, in everyday sounds. Paik became interested in making multi-media visual art, combining his interest in music, art and electronics. In 1964, Paik continued his pioneering work with music and video performance in New York, where he began working with the classical cellist Charlotte Moorman. In the ground-breaking work TV Cello, the pair stacked television sets on top of each other, to form the shape of a cello. When Moorman drew her bow across the “cello”, images of both her playing, and video collages of other cellists playing, appeared on the TV screens.

In 1965, Paik was one of the first artists to use a portable video and audio recorder, the Portapak introduced by Sony. In 1969, he worked with Japanese engineer Shuya Abe to construct an early video-synthesizer that allowed him to experiment with ways to alter TV and video images and create an astonishing range of artworks. Later he used multiple TV monitors and robots made of TV sets, metal and electronic components.

TV Cello,on offer in this sale, was created in 1994 and is one of the best examples from Nam Jun Paik‟s Cello series using multiple TV monitors.

The sale also presents outstanding works by renowned masters as well as emerging Korean artists who have performed consistently well in local and international auction markets. Highlights include I’m Yours-Apollo by Jang Seung Hyo (Estimate: HK$81,000-110,000/US$11,000-14,000) and Mini Digital 8 Fold Screen 2 by Lee Lee Nam (Estimate: HK$62,000-70,000/US$8,000-10,000).

Japanese Art
Yayoi Kusama (born 1929) is represented in the sale by Venus No.4, Statue of Venus (Obliterated by Infinity Nets) which dates from 1998. Making its debut appearance at auction, this is one of the most important works in Kusama‟s Infinity Nets series (Estimate: HK$3,000,000-3,500,000/US$390,000-450,000). Venus No. 1, Statue of Venus (Obliterated by Infinity Nets), another piece from the same series, fetched HK$3,596,000 (US$459,847 ) at Seoul Auction‟s Hong Kong Sale in May 2009, setting an auction record for a sculpture by Kusama.

Kusama has become a legend in Japanese contemporary art and she is one of the most influential and widely collected Japanese artists today. Kusama‟s paintings, collages, sculptures, performance art and environmental installations all share an obsession with repetition, pattern and accumulation. The art critic Laura Hoptman has written, “Kusama‟s interest in pattern began with hallucinations she experienced as a young girl – visions of nets, dots, and flowers that covered everything she saw. Gripped by the idea of „obliterating the world‟, she began covering larger and larger areas of canvas with patterns.” The present work is one of ten Venus artworks in different colours, each incorporating a canvas and a statue. The hallucinatory red and black patterns start on the flat, two-dimensional surface of the canvas, and then extend into the three-dimensional sculpture of the goddess.

Also fresh to the market is Walking Alone by Yoshitomo Nara (born 1959), an exceptional work executed in 1998 (Estimate: HK$1,300,000-1,500,000/US$170,000-200,000). Yoshitomo Nara came to the attention of the international art world during Japan‟s Pop Art movement in the 1990s with his paintings of innocent-looking pastel-hued children drawn with cartoonish lines and little or no background. Today he is one of the best known and most sought-after contemporary Japanese artists and his intriguing works have earned him a cult following worldwide.

Nara‟s signature portraits of wide-eyed or squinting children with enlarged heads at first look deceptively simple and cute. On closer inspection, however, they have expressions of accusation or even malevolence in their eyes. What is more, even if they are depicted engaging in harmless activities such as holding a flag or a book, playing in a box, or standing in a puddle, frequently they are holding dangerously sharp weapons such as knives and saws. Sometimes they have their eyes closed, as if playing hide and seek or even sleep-walking. The viewer is drawn, intrigued and yet at the same time filled with a sense of foreboding, in a strange mixture of emotions that these images evoke.

A special Session of Limited Edition Works
Also on offer in the sale is a special session of Limited Edition Works by distinguished Asian and Western artists including Pablo Picasso, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara.

Highlights include Jacqueline au Chevalet, a ceramic plate by Picasso (Estimate: HK$270,000-340,000/US$ 35,000-44,000), Marilyn by Andy Warhol (Estimate: HK$800,000-1,200,000/US$100,000-150,000), Table Bleue by Yves Klein (Estimate: HK$210,000-270,000/US$26,000-35,000) and For the Love of God, The Diamond Skull and For the Love of God, The Laugh by Damien Hirst (Estimate: HK$210,000-270,000/US$26,000-35,000) and Puppy by Jeff Koons (Estimate: HK$40,000-50,000/US$5,200-6,500).

Seoul Auction | Jun Lee | Western and Asian Contemporary Art |


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