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Sotheby's presents Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings Autumn Sale 2013
Ronald Ventura (b. 1973), Magicaland, 2011-12. Graphite and oil on canvas, 179.5 x 366 cm. Est. HK$880,000 - 1.28 million / US$114,000 - 166,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong presents a stellar line-up of representative Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art this Autumn in two sales: At Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale on 5 October, 18 exemplary works by the region’s most acclaimed artists will be offered in this celebratory occasion, showcasing the rich and diverse cultures of Southeast Asia. Significant works by modern masters from Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines including Walter Spies, Juan Luna, S. Sudjojono, Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen and Fernando Zobel will be featured, alongside a stunning selection of works by contemporary artists such as Ronald Ventura, Ay Tjoe Christine, Rudi Mantofani and Nona Garcia. On 6 October, the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings Day Sale will bring to the market 226 exceptional works. Two sales combined will offer a total of 244 lots estimated in excess of HK$102 million / US$13 million*.

MOK Kim Chuan, Sotheby’s Head of Southeast Asian Paintings Department, said: “Southeast Asian art has emerged over the past decade as a fast-growing sector to watch. Since the relocation of the sale of Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings to Hong Kong in 2008, this category has attracted rising global interest which is well-reflected in our many recent record-breaking sales. Catered to this increasing demand, we are thrilled to present a stellar line-up of works by major artists from the region this season, many of which are truly iconic and significant masterpieces entrusted by our valued clients in celebration of Sotheby’s 40 years in Asia.

The Evening Sale on 5 October will present the highest calibre of works in the category. Highlights include a prominent landscape painting by Walter Spies, seminal modern masterpieces by pioneer Nanyang artists Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen and Cheong Soo Pieng, a museum-quality oil-on-canvas work by Juan Luna, as well as thought-provoking creations by Ronald Ventura and I Nyoman Masriadi - two of the most sought-after contemporary artists today. Other important works by such renowned artists as Lee Man Fong, S. Sudjojono, Hendra Gunawan, Srihadi Sudarsono, Pham Hau, among many others, will come up at the Day Sale on 6 October, adding further excitement. We are confident that the two sales will satisfy the growing appetite for works of the utmost quality of new and seasoned collectors worldwide.”

(A) 7pm, 5 October - Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale
Indo-Europe  Modern
Walter Spies (1895 – 1942)
Blick Von Der Höhe (A View From The Heights), 1934
Oil on canvas, 100.5 x 82.5 cm
Expected to fetch in excess of HK$ 15 million / US$ 1.9 million

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 early death at the age of 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 - Blick Von Der Höhe (A View From The Heights) is one of them and is also a rare oil-on-canvas 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 paddy fields and a lonesome farmer. The dramatic play of light and shadows, and the composition of multiple scenes – both signature elements in the artist’s works - instil a sense of depth, drama and mood into the narrative. The silhouette of the farmer resting in the corner is outlined by the last rays of the setting sun, representing the “everyman” that inhabited Spies’ imagination. This rare painting is a meditative study of a nocturnal moment of Bali, reflecting Spies’ passion for the island.

Singapore  Modern
Chen Wen Hsi (1906 - 1992), Pasar (Market), Circa 1950s
Oil on board, 130 x 104.5 cm
Est. HK$4 - 6 million / US$520,000 - 775,000

This season, Sotheby’s is pleased to present an iconic piece, Pasar (Market), by Singapore’s prolific Nanyang artist, Chen Wen Hsi, who is recognised as one of the Founding Fathers of Modern Art in Singapore. The largest oil-on-board work by the artist that has ever come to auction, Pasar (Market) is a quintessential example of Chen’s work circa 1950s, the seminal period of his career. The painting sees 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 his memories with three primary colours: red, blue and yellow, capturing vividly the energetic atmosphere of the Singaporean market scene.

Singapore  Modern
Georgette Chen
(1907 – 1993)
Lotus Symphony, 1962
Oil on canvas, 58 x 144 cm
Expected to fetch in excess of
HK$ 8 million / US$ 1 million

Georgette Chen’s mastery of composition has established herself as a pioneer in Nanyang art history. Her success as an artist was further solidified when one of her works was acquired by the prestigious Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris. Following this, Chen participated in several exhibitions in both Europe and Asia, and was admired for her artistic precision and understanding of colours and tones.

Painted in her own garden, the present Lotus Symphony is a masterpiece that evokes a sense of tranquility and escapism. The composition is punctuated with lotuses of varied shapes and sizes, and their stems weaving elegantly in different directions. The lotus’ positions also form a rhythmic volume, and evoke a tempo of nature’s harmonious sonata. The Buddhists believe that the lotus represents achievement and spiritual enlightenment, and it also symbolises wisdom, compassion, divinity and purity of the soul. Combining Western techniques with Eastern themes, Lotus Symphony is not only a magnificent work that was created at the peak of Chen’s career, but is also the largest painting by the artist to ever appear at auction.

The Philippines  Contemporary
Ronald Ventura (b. 1973)
Magicaland, 2011-12
Graphite and oil on canvas
179.5 x 366 cm
Est. HK$880,000 - 1.28 million / US$114,000 - 166,000

The Contemporary section is anchored by Magicaland by Filipino artist Ronald Ventura whose Grayground sold for HK$8.42 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2011 – world auction record of any Contemporary Southeast Asian art. Magicaland is a monumental piece of unparalleled excellence, which features a medley of art history, pop icons, and Filipino cultural references. Inspired by the 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.

(B) 10am, 6 October - Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings Day Sale
Indonesia  Modern
S. Sudjojono (1914 – 1986)
The Ruins And The Piano, 1956
Oil on canvas, 125 x 200 cm
Expected to fetch in excess of HK$ 4 million /US$ 515,000

An artist whose revolutionary spirit inspired his oeuvre, S. Sudjojono used painting as a vehicle to express his political and sociological ideals. Well known for his paintings that depict the Indonesian countryside, the local people and their daily lives, the present work executed in 1956 - The Ruins and The Piano - can be viewed as a distinct separation from the artist’s popular motifs, portraying a piano resting alone in a forlorn wasteland, divorced from its natural setting. Created during the years of self-exploration when the artist experienced shifts in ideologies and artistic affiliations, The Ruins and The Piano demonstrates Sudjojono’s experimentation with surrealist elements. The piano standing firmly in the centre of the ruins could be a reference to the strength and the support from the artist’s wife, a respected musician, in times of need. This echoes the artist’s celebration of family as an important part of his life, and these relationships have always been depicted throughout his oeuvre. The Ruins and The Piano has never been auctioned before, and its appearance is expected to bring intense bidding.

Indonesia  Modern
Lee Man Fong (1913 – 1988), Kampung (Village), Circa 1960s
Oil on wood, 100 x 200 cm
Expected to fetch in excess of HK$ 8 million / US$ 1 million

Lee Man Fong’s landscape paintings depicting Indonesian culture and traditions are highly regarded for their artistic significance in the emergence of the country’s modern art movement. His oeuvre is reflective of his Chinese ancestry for it references the techniques and cultural aesthetics that are embedded in classical Chinese paintings - the present Kampung (Village) is one of the best examples. Measuring 100 by 200 cm, this oil-on-wood work is a depiction of a Balinese village, whereby the artist paying homage to Bali’s rich foliage and wild life while alluding to the relationship that the artist had with the nature. Lee provides a detailed study of a culture that was foreign to him in this painting, and has presented it as a universal portrayal of human relationships.

Indonesia  Modern
Srihadi Sudarsono (b. 1931)
Mt. Merapi and Borobudur: State of Meditation, 2006
Oil on canvas, 130 x 120 cm
Est. HK$380,000 – 550,000 / US$49,100 – 71,000

A prolific artist whose oeuvre is reflective of the transitions in Indonesian modern art, Srihadi Sudarsono is respected for his introductory use of abstract style and aesthetics in the country’s modernist movement. Offered for the first time at auction, Mt. Merapi and Borobudur: State of Meditation, however, shows a deviation from his usual abstract style through a more realist depiction of a famous 9th Century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Java, with the volcano Gunung Merapi visible in the distance.

Sudarsono’s oeuvre has always been dedicated to the Javanese culture, serving as a reference to the artist’s personal history, values and, ultimately, to his own rasa - the Javanese code for behaviour. The scene in Mt. Merapi and Borobudur: State of Meditation may be an extension of the artist’s identity, and the physical presence of the landscape a metaphor for the thoughts and emotions that Sudarsono wants to share with his audience.

Vietnam  Modern
Pham Hau (1903 – 1995), View Of Thay’s Pagoda Landscape In The North Of Vietnam
Circa 1939
Lacquer on wood, in 7 parts. Each: 100 x 28.5 cm; Overall: 100 by 200 cm
Est. HK$500,000 – 700,000 / US$64,500 – 90,500

Pham Hau is known to be one of the most important lacquer painters of Vietnam, and his lacquer works take an important place in the country’s modern art history. The artist’s devotion to this medium was unrivalled for his impressive repertoire conveys the true magnificence of Vietnamese landscape. Dated circa 1939, View of Thay's Pagoda Landscape in the North of Vietnam is a significant seven-panel screen that offers a glimpse of the rich and complex culture of Vietnam. Fascinated by the beauty of the ancient pagoda, the artist executed only three different compositions of the same subject, with the present screen being the largest in size, making it a true showing of Pham Hau’s unparalleled technical virtuosity. He renders the splendour, demonstrating the precision of Vietnamese lacquer art in its entirety. Many lacquer screens of this quality are kept in museum collections, and therefore, View of Thay's Pagoda Landscape in the North of Vietnam, is expected to be highly sought-after by connoisseurs.

The Philippines  Contemporary
Geraldine Javier (b. 1970), Tree of Life
Oil on canvas and 7 vitrines with embroidery
161.5 x 260 cm
Est. HK$400,000 – 600,000 / US$52,000 – 77,500

The present mixed-media work, Tree of Life, by Filipino artist Geraldine Javier is inspired by the artist's fascination and affinity with her natural surroundings. Each of the unique nests in the painting symbolises knowledge and enlightenment, while the birds represent a specific message or truth that the artist wishes to convey - Javier embraces life with optimism, respecting all things great and small within the work.

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