SINGAPORE.- Sotheby’s Auction of Southeast Asian Paintings held on October 10, 2004 at the Regent Singapore totaled S$8,256,120, making it the highest total achieved ever. Of the 238 paintings offered, 183 were sold. The salesroom was packed with bidders and biddings were intense throughout the auction. Auction record was fetched for work by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Phan Chanh.
The most expensive painting sold at this auction was an oil painting titled Tjawan and Sadri by Dutch artist Willem Hofker. Bidding started at S$210,000 and quickly escalated by biddings in the room and on the telephones. It was finally sold for S$596,800. The painting depicts two young dancers who were the artist’s frequent subject matter. Hofker added an enigmatic psychological dynamic with the juxtaposition of the two characters.
Steel Mills by Filipino artist Juan Luna, sold for S$518,400, was the second most expensive painting sold. The painting paid tribute to the hard working laborers and was painted during the socialist realist phase of the artist.
Balinesa by Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias fetched S$440,000, against an estimate of S$150,000-200,000, making it the third most expensive painting in the auction. A watercolor executed in pointillist style, this painting captures the artist’s mastery of drawing in geometric forms, inspired by primitive and ethnic art.
La Marche by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Phan Chanh changed hands for S$328,000, breaking his own record fetched by his ink on silk painting Girl Combing Hair at Sotheby’s auction in April. Vietnamese paintings fared strongly in the sale, twenty nine Vietnamese paintings totaled over S$1,300,000, making it the strongest total for Vietnamese paintings ever.
Indonesian artist Abdul Aziz’s lyrical and romantic work First Love attracted intense interest prior to the auction. It was finally sold for S$283,200, almost three times its low estimate.
’We are delighted with the strong results fetched at today’s auction,’ commented Kim Chuan Mok, specialist in charge of the sale and deputy director of Sotheby’s China and Southeast Asia. ’Particularly notable was the strong interests for Vietnamese paintings. Since achieving the auction record of Le Pho’s Mother and Child since Autumn 2003, we gradually see stronger and stronger representation of Vietnamese paintings in the sale and we are happy that demand is solid. The overall auction results today reflected that the market is yearning for fresh quality works as testified by the prices achieved for Miguel Covarrubias’ Balinesa, Isaac Israels’ Portrait of a Javanese Prince, Hofker’s Tjawan and Sadri and Hendra Gunawan’s Batik Seller."