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Sotheby's Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale to be held on 5 October
Wang Yidong (b. 1955), Letter, 2006, oil on canvas, 100 x 150 cm. Est. HK$10 – 18 million / US$1.3 – 2.3 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- In celebration of its 40th anniversary in Asia, Sotheby’s presents the eagerly anticipated Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale at 7pm on Saturday, 5 October 2013 during its Hong Kong Autumn 2013 Sale Series (4 – 8 October). This carefully-curated sale will combine the best offerings from 20th Century Chinese Art, Contemporary Asian Art and Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art categories. If you are interested, look for the best hotels in Hong Kong and enjoy the city while you take advantage of the great deals they are offering on these art pieces. Estimated at over HK$660 million / US$85 million* – The Highest Total Estimate Of Any Comparable Sale In Asia - this celebratory Evening Sale will offer over 60 works of exceptional quality by such eminent artists as Wang Yidong, Chu Tehchun, Zeng Fanzhi, Liu Ye, Walter Spies and Ronald Ventura, among many others.

Of particular note, the evening will be led by a remarkable group of seven museum quality works by modern Chinese masters from A Distinguished Private Collection (Est. over HK$211 million / US$27.1 million), featuring highly important paintings in oil by Zao Wou-ki, Sanyu and Wu Guanzhong.

Commenting on this Evening Sale, Kevin Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby’s Asia, says: “As we planned our 40th Anniversary in Asia programme, we agreed that an auction combining exceptional works from 20th Century Chinese Art, Contemporary Asian Art and Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art categories would be an appropriate and timely way to celebrate. We are, therefore, delighted to present Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale scheduled for 5 October. It will offer truly rare, remarkable and fresh-to-the-market works from the important collections of our valued clients. We are extremely grateful for their trust and confidence in Sotheby’s, and hope that the Evening Sale would provide a unique opportunity to acquire works of superb quality. With the highest total estimate of any comparable sale in Asia, this Auction promises to be a fitting and memorable anniversary celebration.”

25 exceptional works by renowned modern Chinese artists will be showcased, including Chu Teh-Chun, Chen Yifei, Wang Yidong, Pan Yuliang, Luo Zhongli, Wang Huaiqing, etc. The sale of A Distinguished Private Collection will be the highlight featuring seven museum-quality works by modern Chinese masters, including Zao Wou-ki, Sanyu and Wu Guanzhong.

Chen Yifei (1946 – 2005), Maids of Honor, 1998, oil on canvas, 167.5 x 164.2 cm. Est. HK$8.8 – 12 million / US$1.1 – 1.5 million
Maids of Honor illustrates traditional feminine demureness in Chinese women. Its sensual depiction of two maidens, lying parallel to each other side by side, arouses a sense of intimacy to dramatic effect, while their postures also reveal the sensitivities of the female psyche. Displaying superb realist techniques, Chen combines his forthright, free-flowing brushstrokes with modern cinematic photography techniques to provide a bird’s eye view of the protagonists immersed in resplendent hues of gold. The enchanting charms they personify are classical yet modern. By creating this iconic image of Chinese beauty, Chen has helped elevate the standing of Chinese realist oil paintings in the international art scene - Maids of Honor has been exhibited at Marlborough Gallery in New York and Monte Carlo.

Wang Yidong (b. 1955), Letter, 2006, oil on canvas, 100 x 150 cm Est. HK$10 – 18 million / US$1.3 – 2.3 million
A leading figure of Chinese Realism, Wang Yidong embarks on an aesthetic portrayal of a young woman in love and the moments of conjugal bliss she experiences in the present work The Letter - appeared at auction for the first time. Exuding a girlish naiveté, the image of her unembellished face within the painting’s narrative context, reminiscent of a scene from cinema, brings back one’s memories of innocent romance and all its heartrending yearnings. The classic Renaissance realistic techniques, chiaroscuro and sfumato, are applied to fuse traditional Chinese ink painting style with Western oil, resulting in this rustic-themed romantic odyssey.

Chu Teh-Chun (b. 1920), Embrasement (A Blazing Area), 1978, oil on canvas, 195 x 130.2 cm, Est. HK$12 – 18 million / US$1.5 – 2.3 million
Chu Teh-Chun was known as a “fire-like painter” in France for his passionate style. After spending years travelling abroad, the paintings he composed in the 1970s not only encapsulate the essence of Western aesthetics, but also the depth of his familiarity with Chinese culture. Dominated by the compelling red colour, Embrasement (A Blazing Area), which has never appeared at auction before, commands immediate attention, drawing its viewers into the artist’s inner world, where the flame of his life burns bright like the rising sun and the Taoist concepts of harmony and chaos are expressed. Red, a Chinese symbol of auspiciousness, abundance, strength and life, permeates through the painting’s composition, imagery and its underlying rhythms to create a sense of infinite space marked by unceasing changes and the force of life.

Zao Wou-ki (1920 – 2013), 16.5.66, 1966, oil on canvas, 195 x 130 cm Est. HK$30 – 50 million / US$3.8 – 6.4 million
The vertical canvas of 16.5.66 features a rich backdrop of amber, orange and apricot yellow, superimposed with the etchings of crisscrossing brushstrokes hastily executed in black. Painted in the bold, unfettered style of Cao Shu (cursive script) calligraphy, the lines rise upwards with an uninterrupted force. From the centre, they radiate out in unruly movements to create the image of a dynamic cyclone. Orange and red, the colours that suffuse this painting, are primarily used to communicate Zao Wou-ki’s unbridled passion for his art. The brushstroke displayed is equally outstanding, executed energetically to seemingly form the Chinese character “ai (love)” in black. The artist’s ability to create a range of tones using only black to multilayered and contrasting effects indicates a masterful grasp of Chinese calligraphy skills. Through the breathtaking brushstrokes showcased on canvas, viewers can almost visualise every breath the artist inhales, his every movement and all the vitality he musters to perform this work. Coming from an important European private collection, this spectacular piece has been exhibited at a Zao Wou-ki solo exhibition at Palais des Beaux-arts, Charleroi, Belgium, 1969, and will be offered at auction for the first time.

A Distinguished Private Collection
The Evening Sale will be led by the sale of a remarkable group of seven museum quality works by modern Chinese masters from A Distinguished Private Collection. These highly important paintings in oil by Sanyu, Zao Wou-ki and Wu Guanzhong, widely recognised as the most sought-after artists in modern Chinese art today, were created at seminal moments in their respective artistic careers. All of the works have been exhibited at major art institutions or museum exhibitions and will appear for the first time at auction or after a long absence from the market. Estimated at over HK$211 million / US$27.1 million, the group of seven works from the Collection coming to the market provides an outstanding collecting opportunity for discerning collectors.

Zao Wou-ki, 15.1.82 (triptych), oil on canvas, 1982, 195.3 x 390.5 cm Est. HK$68 – 90 million / US$8.7 – 11.5 million
In the early 1980s, Zao threw himself into creating a number of large-format, majestic polyptych works, as though they were to provide expression for the joys of life he rediscovered. As one of the most representative pieces in this oeuvre, the present 15.1.82 (triptych) stands out with its subtle beauty and richness. It celebrates the aesthetics of a mature painter who, in his early sixties, had achieved the mental transition to become free of worry and cravings.

15.1.82 (triptych) has been exhibited at Zao Wou-ki’s first solo exhibition at the National Museum of History, Taipei (1983), as well as exhibitions at Galerie de France (1984), Fuji Television Gallery, Japan (1987) and Saatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany (2008). Featured in many publications dedicated to Zao and his works, 15.1.82 (triptych) is one of the artist’s most important and seminal works. This gigantic triptych also represents the key stylistic transition Zao underwent during this significant period.

Sanyu (1901 – 1966), Goldfish, 1930s – 1940s, oil on canvas, 73.8 x 50.2 cm Est. HK$50 – 70 million / US$6.4 – 9 million
It is important to note that in the exquisite and very rare oil on canvas Goldfish, Sanyu uses the auspicious Chinese symbol, the swimming goldfish, signifying “yearly surplus”, to be his main subject for the first and only time. Distinct from the early works – dominated by soft pink and white hues which Sanyu painted in his Pink Period in the 1930s, in Goldfish, almost in contrast, Sanyu’s use of coral red and white, the colours closely associated with Chinese culture, is a bold and concise effort to delineate spatial relationships. Goldfish bears a distinguished provenance. Over the past 60 years, this remarkable work has only been in two collections. The first was Robert Frank, a famous American photographer, who was also a close friend of Sanyu’s, for whom Sotheby’s held a dedicated sale for his collection in 1997 in Taiwan. The present owner seized the unique opportunity and acquired the work at this auction. As the most important work in the sale, Goldfish was naturally chosen as the cover illustration of the auction catalogue. The painting’s re-emergence on the market after its long absence from the public eye is set to spark another bout of market frenzy.

A stellar line-up of 18 works by such eminent contemporary Asian artists as Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Ye, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara and Zeng Fanzhi will be on offer. Many of the works are offered for the first time at auction.

Liu Ye (b. 1964), Sword, 2001 – 2002, acrylic and oil on canvas, 180 x 360 cm. Estimate Upon Request
The Evening Sale will bring the debut auction appearance of Sword - one of the three large-format works of the same size from the same series by Liu Ye executed between 2001 to 2002. Sotheby’s established world auction record for the artist when another work from the series – Smoke – sold for HK$3.7 million in April 2006. Smoke and the other work, Gun, are now unavailable on the market – the former is kept in a private collection while the latter is currently held in a museum collection – thus allowing the spotlight to fall on the present Sword, a large-format work that far surpasses its companions in its poignancy and vivid nostalgia. Inspired by Ang Lee’s award-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sword resonates a scene of the film where the two female leads posed in a showdown of might and skill. The work’s ability to capture the same surrealist whimsicality that has become tantamount to the artist’s work, while combining in equal parts Western and Chinese influences, allows this piece to stand out in all of its exceptional rarity. While the style of the painting is intensely Asian and looks back to a strong history of Chinese art, Western styles of shading and shaping are employed to convey such things as the fleeciness of the treetops or the jagged coldness of the blades.

Takashi Murakami (b. 1962), The World of Sphere (diptych), 2003, acrylic on canvas, 350 x 350cm. Est. HK$16 – 24 million / US$2.1 – 3.1 million
In 2002, Louis Vuitton’s creative director, Marc Jacobs, invited Takashi Murakami to design for the brand’s accessories line. The present The World of Sphere (diptych) is the most iconic painting from the series associated with artist’s collaborative venture with Louis Vuitton. Making its debut appearance at auction, the work is distinctive for taking the artist’s signature “superflat” style to an entirely new level. Superflat, which began as an explorative play on surface versus three-dimensional depth in 2000 at his exhibition of the same title that featured commercial designers from Japan, soon grew into a blurring of lines between fine art and commercial culture. The World of Sphere (diptych), however, is not only a representation of this blurring of boundaries, but functions as a central threshold of merging worlds. This painting was included in the artist’s 2007 retrospective exhibition © MURAKAMI at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958), Bloodline: Big Family No. 12, 1996, oil on canvas, 190 x 150 cm. Est. HK$16 – 25 million / US$2.1 – 3.2 million
Bloodline: Big Family No. 12 is one of the earliest paintings that allude to the close relationship the artist had with his beloved daughter Huanhuan, featuring a rare and personal composition of a father and young daughter together. The painting also skillfully showcases the subtle yet crucial aesthetic transition from the early phase of the Bloodline: Big Family series to the later works in Zhang’s career. In the early 90s, the image of Zhang’s mother is frequently found in the artist’s works. This includes the mother and son composition in the painting Bloodline: Big Family No. 13, in which the artist reflects his close relationship with his mother. The birth of his daughter, thus, had naturally become another important subject matter in his later works. Bloodline: Big Family No. 12 is one of the earliest and finest works, not only in his oeuvre, but in the entire Bloodline: Big Family series, to speak of this personal father and daughter bond that holds great importance to Zhang himself. Its first appearance at auction will certainly bring intense bidding.

Zeng Fanzhi (b. 1964), Mask Series, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 145 cm. Est. HK$20 – 25 million / US$2.6 – 3.2 million
Mask Series, which will appear for the first time at auction, features many symbols that have underscored Zeng’s career, such as the infamous mask, Maoist jacket, engorged head and hands as well as the blank glower of the solitary character. Not only is Mask Series rare due to its large format – a size that does not feature often in the present series – it is also a powerful example of the artist’s more mature work. When compared with Zeng’s earlier Mask works in the early 90s, the present Mask Series is much more developed. Towards the end of the 90s and into the early part of the 21st Century, Zeng’s works became more refined and controlled. This striking piece is also a curious blend of German Expressionism, Social Realism, and Abstract Expressionism.

Southeast Asian art has emerged over the past decade as a fast-growing sector to watch. Global interest is on the rise, with bidding emanating from collectors beyond Asia. In this Evening Sale, 18 exemplary works from the region’s most acclaimed artists are selected to showcase the rich and diverse cultures of Southeast Asia. Modern masters such as Walter Spies, Juan Luna, S. Sudjojono, Chen Wen Hsi and Fernando Zobel are featured, alongside a line-up of contemporary artists including Ronald Ventura, Ay Tjoe Christine, Rudi Mantofani and Nona Garcia.

Walter Spies (1895 – 1942), Blick von Der Höhe (A View from the Heights), 1934, oil on canvas, 100.5 x 82.5 cm. Estimate upon request
Leading the Modern section is an extremely rare masterpiece - Blick von Der Höhe (A View from the Heights) - by renowned German artist, Walter Spies. Relocated to Indonesia in the 1920s, Spies is regarded as a key figure in Indonesia’s modern art movement and is respected for his influence upon the country’s artistic heritage. However, due to the artist’s untimely death at 46, there are only a handful of oil paintings that are known to exist, with less than 50 of these works depicting his celebrated island motifs - the present work is one of them. It is also a rare oil-oncanvas work by Spies remaining in private hands.

In Blick von Der Höhe (A View from the Heights), Spies’ favoured themes and constructs are perfectly exemplified: the Balinese countryside, the palm trees, the rice fields and the lonesome farmer. The dramatic play of light and shadows and the composition of multiple scenes – both signature elements in the artist’s works - instill a sense of depth, drama and mood into the narrative. The farmer resting in the corner, his silhouette outlined by the last rays of the setting sun, represented the “everyman” that inhabited Spies’ imagination. This painting is a meditative study of a nocturnal moment which also reflects Walter Spies’ passion for the island.

Chen Wen Hsi (1906 - 1992), Pasar (Market), Circa 1950s, oil on board, 130 x 104.5 cm. Est. HK$4 - 6 million / US$515,000 - 773,000
Another star lot is an iconic piece by Singapore’s prolific Nanyang artist, Chen Wen Hsi, who is recognised as one of the Founding Fathers of Modern Art in Singapore. This season, Sotheby’s is pleased to present Pasar (Market), a quintessential example of Chen’s work circa 1950s, the seminal period of his career. This exceptional piece is regarded as the largest oil-on-board piece that has ever come to auction, revealing the artist’s fascination with angles and critique of shapes; the bold gestures and distinguished palette also reflect the development of Chen’s Cubist modernistic vocabulary. Daringly expressing the positive and negative geometrical spaces, Chen draws upon memories with three primary colours: red, blue and yellow – capturing vividly the energetic atmosphere of the market in Singapore. The excitement for the medium and intensity of interaction with it is palpable.

Ronald Ventura (b. 1973), Magicaland, 2011-12, oil on canvas, 179.5 x 366 cm. Est. HK$880,000 - 1.28 million / US$113,000 - 165,000
The Contemporary section anchored by Magicaland from Filipino artist Ronald Ventura, the celebrated world record holder of the most expensive Contemporary Southeast Asian artwork to ever be sold at auction (Grayground – sold for HK$8.42 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2011). Magicaland is a monumental piece of unparalleled excellence - a medley of art history, pop icons, and Filipino cultural references. Inspired by 16th Century Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel’s The Fall of The Magician, Ventura has recast the artist as the magician in the painting.

A visionary in the guise of an artist, Ventura continues to tear apart paradigms and cultural norms, with a happy abandonment that is evident throughout his body of work. Magicaland is ultimately a visual allegory where rhyme and reason collide playfully into one another, and he as the painter is the mastermind behind it all.

Rudi Mantofani (b. 1973), Bayangan Merah (Red Shadow), 2009, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Est. HK$380,000 – 580,000 / US$48,000 – 74,000
Sotheby’s set the world auction record of Indonesian Contemporary artist Rudi Mantofani in October 2008 (Pohon-pohon Langit - sold for HK$3.02 million), and is proud to offer another thoughtprovoking work by the artist - Bayangan Merah (Red Shadow) - this Autumn. Measuring 200 x 200 cm, this magnificent canvas is imbued with a sense of enigmatic beauty. A luxuriant tree occupies the central position of the painting, but the depiction of its surrealistic red shadow challenges viewers to decipher the underlying codes within Mantofani’s witty visual parable. The visual ploy here is a meditation on human nature. Through this work, Mantofani attempts to bring us closer to the truth while maintaining a positive outlook. Bayangan Merah (Red Shadow) is a fresh and iconic work that testifies to Rudi Mantofani’s reputation as a virtuoso painter and a critical thinker. The combination of rich visual narrative and enigmatic aesthetic highlights the present work as one of the artist’s finest.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium and prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

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