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Seoul Auction to Offer Superlative Western & Asian Art in October
In the early stage of his career, Liu Ye found inspiration in works by Mondrian, a master of geometric abstraction. Liu has since adapted Mondrian’s geometric forms and primary colours in his own paintings. In Mondrian and Me (Est. HK$2.4-3.2 million), the boy, who represents the artist himself, faces the viewer with an oversized head and blushing face. This fairy-tale like, cartoon figure is derived from imaginary characters that Liu created for illustrations in children’s books written by his father.

HONG KONG.- Seoul Auction, Korea’s leading art auction house, will hold its Modern & Contemporary Art sale on 4 October 2010 at 4 pm at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, presenting an excellent and diversified selection of Western and Asian art. A total of 60 works by leading Western, Korean, Japanese and Chinese artists with a total estimate of HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) will be offered. Of note, collectors will be thrilled to find more striking and significant works by Western artists in this season’s sale.

Misung Shim, Managing Director of Seoul Auction Hong Kong Ltd. said, “A pioneer in the market, Seoul Auction was the first auction house to offer Western masterpieces in Hong Kong. This season, we are privileged to present an even stronger and more compelling selection of works by distinguished Western Modern, Impressionist and Contemporary artists. These carefully selected works of art are truly outstanding examples of great importance and rarity.”

“We have also assembled an impressive array of superb pieces created by the most eminent artists in the Chinese, Japanese and Korean art scene. Each section is hence proudly represented by the best quality and most exemplary objects that are set to enthrall Asia’s art market. I believe collectors with different tastes and interests will be drawn by this season’s exciting line-up, and we will witness heated competition during the sale.”

The Western art section celebrates the artistic talent of renowned Western artists - from Modern masters such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall; to Contemporary icons like Andy Warhol; to up-and-coming artists under limelight including Jason Martin and Ron Arad. Each piece stands apart from others displaying its unique style and aesthetics.

Featured prominently in the sale is Marc Chagall’s Bestiaire et Musique (estimate on request), one of the greatest ever masterpieces by the artist which is appearing in the auction market for the first time. Completed in 1969, it reflects Chagall’s passionate 80-year career and is highly acclaimed as a monumental work of his late period.

By the 1960s, Chagall had gained much international recognition and started to create larger paintings including Bestiaire et Musique. On this vast canvas measuring 140x155 cm, the artist and his wife Bella are portrayed as a young bride and bridegroom. In the centre is a bouquet of flowers, symbolizing the value Chagall placed on love.

The circus motif is an iconic theme in Chagall’s works. The artist was entranced by the joy of the circus troupe with its clowns, acrobats and musicians. He nonetheless felt the tragedy, misery and sorrow in their difficult lives. Through distinctive brushstrokes, he interwove conflicting human emotions such as happiness and sorrow, pain and pleasure, hope and frustration against a black and blue background. The violinist and flute player in the painting are inspired by the traditional Jewish festivals of Chagall’s homeland in Russia.

This painting was exhibited in the exhibition ‘L’Oeuvre Ultime de Cézanne à Dubuffet’ at the Fondation Maeght, Saint Paul de Vence, France in 1989 as an example of Chagall’s later works.

Another highlight is Le Modèle dans L’atelier by Pablo Picasso (Est. HK$14-18 million). After he married Jacqueline Roque in 1961, Picasso painted many works inspired by his young wife. The magnificent painting on offer was painted in 1965, and the model seems to be Jacqueline. While she is in the centre of the canvas, occupying most of the canvas and staring directly at the viewer with a confident face, the painter’s presence is simply suggested in this work.

Vase de Fleurs by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Est. HK$3.2-3.8 million) is an outstandingly beautiful painting by the master, illustrating Renoir’s philosophy that art should be “pleasant, delightful and pretty”, to give as much pleasure as possible to the viewer.

Seoul Auction will also present an exceptional selection of important works by Andy Warhol, the icon of American Pop Art. The movement emerged from the 1950s to 1970s taking its inspiration from the imagery of the consumer society, popular culture and the cult of stardom. Using the silk screen technique popular in commercial art, he mass produced brightly coloured images, narrowing the gap between commercial art and fine art. Warhol created identical images on canvas, then added colour to give each print of an edition a different look. An excellent example of his celebrity portraits is Liz (Est. HK$370,000-420,000), depicting Elizabeth Taylor. Flowers (Est. HK$220,000-250,000) on offer is another distinctive piece.

Warhol’s famous Mao series executed in early 1970s marked his return to painting after making films for most of the 1960s. At that time, when diplomatic relations between China and the USA were renewed, Warhol became fascinated by the image of the Chinese Communist leader and combined the image of Mao Zedong with symbols of consumer culture. The highlights in this series include Mao completed in 1973 (Est. HK$6-8 million). In the Warhol’s eyes, Communist propaganda and capitalist advertising media resembled each other. Broad and gestural brushstrokes, revealing a return to painterly principles, compete with the photographic silkscreen image.

Damien Hirst’s works often convey his fascination with the processes of life and death. All his pieces are, in fact, meditations on the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. Dawn Harvest (Yellow) (Est. HK$5-6 million) and Dawn Harvest (Blue) (Est. HK$5-6 million) from his Butterfly paintings series express acutely and poignantly this mystery at the heart of the human condition.

For Hirst, the butterfly is a symbol of the beauty and fragility of life. In both of these works, the butterflies appear flying within a closed room illuminated by bright light coming through the windows. Though trapped in paint, they look alive and give the impression of fluttering in the enclosed space. Hence, the butterflies are dead but they attain immortality by becoming part of the art work.

Seoul Auction has been responsible for introducing Hirst’s work to the Asian market where it has fetched high prices. Interest in his work remains very strong in Asia, not only at auction but as witnessed also by the exhibition of his works at the ART HK art fair in May 2010, where The Inescapable Truth fetched £1.75 million (approximately HK$19.88 million).

Among the most respected and influential designers working today, Ron Arad is celebrated for his versatility and inventive but challenging design concepts. On offer this season are his Bodyguard, a unique piece (Est. HK$2-3 million) and Blo-Void 3 (Est. HK$1.1-1.5 million). Both are fluid and sensuous chair sculptures made of painted aluminum in Arad’s characteristically free and curvaceous style. They represent the artist’s innovative approach of using both cutting-edge technology and hands-on craftsmanship.

A representative member of YBA (Young British Artists), Jason Martin has created a wide array of eye-catching monochrome paintings. Using an aluminum brush or cardboard, he spreads out the monochromatic medium to create swirly striated patterns. In Cinder (Est. HK$200,000-300,000) and Thrasso (Est. HK$200,000-300,000), both completed in 2007, the flowing pattern of different hues of colour appears to be reflected on a stainless steel surface. The curvy lines have various depth and they look especially striking under the light. The surface is transformed into a sublime space for contemplation, and viewers are invited to experience a spiritual and sensual perception in an infinite universe.

Yayoi Kusama has been suffering from hallucinations since the age of ten. Throughout her life, her obsessive neurosis and fragile mental condition have continued to haunt her, driving her to create canvases covered with dots and lines. Such repeated images give her work a unique visual impact. Infinity Nets (Est. HK$2.2-2.8 million), from her first painting series, represents her infinite world covered by golden nets. Also on offer is her Beyond Love and Hate (Est. HK$1.3-1.8 million).

Endless dots can also be found on Kusama’s other pieces such as Pumpkin (Est. HK$860,000-950,000). In some of her paintings and sculptures, her favorite objects including hats, flowers and shoes are also covered with the same pattern, exemplified by On The Table (Est. HK$550,000-600,000) and Hat (Est. HK$460,000-500,000).

Superflat Monogram (Est. HK$1.8-2.2 million) is a classic example of Takashi Murakami’s works which, in the same way as Warhol’s, transcends the boundary between art and popular commercial culture. His signature style, characterized by flat planes of colour and graphic images, is a combination of his Western predecessors Warhol, Oldenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Japanese contemporary anime and manga.

An avant-garde artist who uses his body as an artistic medium, Kazuo Shiraga is an important figure in the contemporary Japanese art scene. He pours paint on the canvas on the floor, then makes strokes with his feet while swinging from ropes suspended from the ceiling. In Cloud of Sand (Est. HK$1.3-1.8 million), Shiraga displays the dramatic and energetic traces of his performance in a dynamic mixture of red, black and yellow colours bursting with energy.

Lee Ufan composes his unique art universe by applying dots and lines on the canvas. In From point (Est. HK$1.6-1.8 million), the blue dots record the traces of actions, visualizing the process in which physical marks are left on a particular surface. By varying the amount of paint and the vigour of his brushstrokes, Lee creates dots that look homogeneous but in fact vary in texture when viewed upclose. As such, the motifs enable the viewer to delve into the world of imagination.

One of the first generation of Korean abstract artists, Kim Whanki creates a range of alluring works imbued with Korean lyricism. Until his Paris period, he conveyed this through subtle and delicate artistic expressions. However, during his New York
period in the 1960s, Kim started using elements such as dots and lines to express more explicitly his profound ideas and thoughts. VI-VII-66 (Est. HK$1.4-1.8 million) is an excellent work completed during this period. Against the blue-grey background, repeated regular dots cross and turn upside down in rhythm.

Kim TschangYeul is a leading artist of the Korean abstract painting movement in the 1950s. After moving to Paris in the 1970s, he started depicting crystal-clear water droplets on the canvas in a surrealistic manner. This intriguing motif has since become a major theme of his works in the past forty years of his career. In Water Drops (Est. HK$1.3-1.6 million), countless water droplets seem to be rolling down, soaking into the paper or holding on the surface of the canvas. The entire composition creates a visual tension and captures the beauty of an instant. The light and shadow further create an illusory effect that adds to this exquisite piece.

In the early stage of his career, Liu Ye found inspiration in works by Mondrian, a master of geometric abstraction. Liu has since adapted Mondrian’s geometric forms and primary colours in his own paintings. In Mondrian and Me (Est. HK$2.4-3.2 million), the boy, who represents the artist himself, faces the viewer with an oversized head and blushing face. This fairy-tale like, cartoon figure is derived from imaginary characters that Liu created for illustrations in children’s books written by his father.

The details and pictorial structure of this work are influenced by the aesthetics of Mondrian. In addition, the boy’s stiff posture, flat eyebrows, arms and hair closely mirror the composition of Mondrian’s piece placed right next to him. Liu also attempts to express his homage to Mondrian by depicting himself as a shy boy.

After graduating from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, Zeng Fanzhi moved to Beijing to develop his career. The rapid social and urban development of the capital city was a source of inspiration for his Mask series. Zeng depicted figures with masks to parody the phenomenon that city dwellers are hiding their emotion and covering up their true expressions behind their masks, while attempting to look smart to display a fake attitude. Class One Series (Est. HK$1.6-2.2 million) is one of such outstanding works in which the red scarf worn by the figure, a symbol of political loyalty especially during the Cultural Revolution, serves as an emblem and reminder of the trauma in Zeng's childhood.

In 1997, Zhou Chun Ya started painting his dog ‘Hagen’ in naturalistic yellow and brown tones like any other ordinary German Shepherd in his early works. Later, he added green to portray its fur under reflecting light. This motif subsequently evolved as Zhou gradually spread the green over a wider area of the dog’s body and eventually, he painted Hagen in pure green. Influenced by German Expressionism while using traditional Chinese ink and brush in the manner of a literati artist, Zhou’s Green Dog series shows well his artistic talent and Green Dog (Est. HK$1.8-2.3 million) on offer is a superb example.

Seoul Auction is also delighted offer to collectors a selection of seminal pieces by 20th Century Chinese masters. The star lot is Alentours Verdoyants II by Zhu Dequn (Est. HK$1-1.5 million). Zhu was strongly influenced by both Western abstract art that captures the essence of objects in a non-representational way, and Chinese Expressionism that expresses a great poetic energy. To realize his creativity through lyrical abstraction, Chu often applied a diverse set of colours on the canvas, as well as calligraphic lines and brushstrokes derived from traditional Chinese painting.

In Alentours Verdoyants II, the canvas is dominated by deep blue blended with white and bright yellow, creating an enchanting light that illuminates the magnificent landscape. The geometrical forms, the vibrant colour patches balanced by the broad brushstrokes and the glittering images altogether create a mystical atmosphere.

Seoul Auction | Misung Shim | Western & Asian Art |

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