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Christie's Hong Kong Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art presents Milestones in Asian Art
Zhang Xiaogang, Bloodline: Big Family. Oil on canvas. Painted in 1999, 150 x 190 cm. (59 x 74 7/8 in.), signed in Chinese; signed 'zhang xiaogang' in Pinyin; dated '1999’ (lower right). Estimate: HK$12,000,000-18,000,000/ US$1,538,500-2,307,700.

HONG KONG.- Christie’s Spring auctions of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art will take place on 26 and 27 May at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Offering more than 560 works of art in the Evening and two Day sales valued over HK$400 million/US$50 million, this season builds on a record year of sales in 2011, where the Christie’s biannual sales in this category totalled HK$1.52 billion (US$195 million), the highest ever achieved and representing a 33% growth over 2010.

Following on the Fall 2011 season which saw the a first-time integration of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary artists into a consolidated wider pan-Asian sale - a milestone in the development of the Asian art market and a first for any international auction house – these sales will once again present collectors with an in-depth, scholarly survey of the past century of artistic achievement in Asian modern and contemporary art through a single curated auction series offering the very best in art from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Evening and Day Sales feature a broad range of exquisite and distinct work, from Asian modernist masters through to avant-garde and cutting-edge contemporary talents, and uncover the unique cultural values and aesthetics from across the region.

Eric Chang, International Director of Christie’s Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art, says “It has been a decade since Christie’s first consolidated our regional Asia sale sites into a full international platform in Hong Kong. In May 2011 we expanded the offerings of our Evening Sale of Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art and introduced works from 20th Century Asian masters from Korea, such as Lee Ufan, and from Japan, such as Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita and Zenzaburo Kojima, whose ‘Nude Reclining on Yellow Chair’ broke the artist’s record at HK$2,660,000 /US$341,810. As the international focus shifts more and more to Asia, we are seeing not only strong prices achieved across a broad spectrum of Asian masters, but also an increase in collecting and connoisseurship in the region, as well as more and more cross-region buying from Asian collectors. As such, we see the development and maturation of the pan-Asian market to be happening in very much the same way as that of the Western art markets in New York and London.”

Tradition and Innovation in Still-Lifes
The focus of Eastern traditional art does not lie in a literal representation of the material world, but rather in the visual translation of the inner landscape of the artist through brushstrokes that express both the spirit and essence of form and offer the viewer – and artist as well – a sublime experience. The still-life works of Asian 20th century masters such as Sanyu, Zenzaburo Kojima, Chen Chengpo, and Liao Jichun offered this season are prime examples of this unique view and underscore the multi-faceted characteristics of the genre.

In Sanyu’s work Pink Lotus we see the expressive baimiao brushstrokes of the Chinese literati used to represent a distinctly Chinese spirit and aesthetic, particularly in the artist’s depiction of the flowers, whose intertwining branches and subtle colours exude a representational quality and abstraction of line. The work carries both the characteristics of ink and oils, establishing a distinctive artistic style that combines Eastern and Western aesthetic elements. Liao Jichun’s Flowers, the largest documented still-life painting by the artist, emphasizes the artist’s emotions through calligraphic brushstrokes and vibrant colours, while Cheng Cheng-po’s Flowers in Bloom transcends its objective exterior to depict the spirit and imagination of the artist. Zenzaburo Kojima’s Chrysanthemums combines influences from traditional Japanese pottery with its subtle colour palette to create a distinctly modern Asian expression in the Western medium of oil.

Modernity in Asian Abstraction
Highly regarded for their unique aesthetics and historical value, works by the Chinese 20th Century masters, such as Zao Wou-ki and Chu Teh-chun, trace the evolution of art over the past century from figurative representation to abstraction. Their works explore the ways of integrating various aesthetic and conceptual elements from Western art, such as Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, into an artistic language rooted in Eastern sensibilities and perspectives. A series of extremely important and rare works by Zao and Chu are offered in the upcoming sale and attest to their extraordinary capacity for subtle poetic expression, the mastery of colour and spatial arrangements amassed from their decades of creative energy, and indeed each work stands as a significant breakthrough in abstract expressionism. Other highlights include Untitled from Korean artist Kim Whan-ki, an artist who incorporates elements of traditional Korea into his works, such as the 5 traditional vibrant colours, O-Bang-Saek (五方色), and Ferryboat, a work from Taiwanese artist Liao Jichun in which the artist creates a lyrical composition of overlapping colours and lines which are deconstructed and reassembled.

Property from the Anna Maria Jagdfeld Collection
This season Christie’s Hong Kong presents the important collection of Chinese Contemporary art from the Anna Maria Jagdfeld Collection in both the Evening and Day Sales.

The collection, offered by a distinguished European collector, is comprised of 11 exceptional works by contemporary Chinese masters such as Liu Ye, Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi, Tang Zhigang, Ai Xuan and Yang Shaobin. These rare and exquisite works encapsulate the creative visions and distinct styles of this important generation of artists, as well as highlight the conceptual origins of this historic movement. Each work from the collection helps elucidate the core aspects of the Chinese avant-garde, from the tension between the individual and society and the bold transition away from academic realism, to the highly personal and symbolic forms of expressionism. Through their unique modes of representation and, in particular, attention to self-portraiture and portraiture, they embody the changes and experiences within themselves and society, representing the underlying mentality of China’s new generation.

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