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Sanyu's Seated Nude leads Bonhams Hong Kong Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sale
Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966), Seated Nude. Oil on canvas, 73cm x 50cm. Estimate: HK$25,000,000-35,000,000. Photo: Bonhams.

HONG KONG.- Following the tremendous success of the “Voyages of Discovery” sale in May 2012 dedicated to 20th century masters Zao Wouki and Chu The-chun, Bonhams launches its first Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art auction which will be held at 11am on 23 November at the Island Ballroom of the Island Shangri-La Hotel.

The sale comprises three sections and over 150 lots. The first one focuses on 20th Century Chinese art, the second on contemporary Asian art and the last one on South East Asian art. The star lot of the sale is undoubtedly Sanyu’s iconic painting Seated Nude.

The highlights of the 20th century Chinese art section include:

Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)
Seated Nude
Oil on canvas
Signed Sanyu in French and Yu in Chinese

Signed and dated 1.1931 on the reverse

73cm x 50cm (28¾in x 19¾in).

Sanyu is today among the most recognised Chinese artists of the 20th 
century. This painting, coming from the famous collection of Henri-Pierre Roché, is the very epitome of Sanyu’s quest to bridge East and West, traditional and contemporary. The rapidity and minimalism of 
the Chinese brush strokes are still apparent, while the topic of the
nude is Western and the pose is probably inspired by the work of Man Ray the Violon d'Ingres. The delicate colours, almost blending the figure in the background, show a very avant-garde experimentation towards the monochrome. Seated Nude encompasses Sanyu’s research in Paris and illustrates the different topics and periods of his work: from the ink sketches of nudes, a topic then foreign to Chinese art, to the inspiration drawn from photography and the influence of Henri-Pierre Roche who encouraged him to explore oil painting. Seated Nude is a true masterpiece.

Pan Yuliang (1895-1977)
Self Portrait
Oil on canvas, framed
56cm x 41cm (22in x 16¼in).
HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000

Another Chinese expatriate artist in Paris, Pan Yuliang is renowned as the first Chinese female painter to explore techniques and styles of the West; she also was the first female artist to enter the Shanghai Art School. Self Portrait reveals how she imbued Western oil painting with Chinese aesthetics. Pan fused animated lines, a distant feature in Chinese ink convention, and vibrant colour from the Impressionists. This work is iconic of Pan Yuliang’s paintings, as she is renowned for being her own model. Depicting herself holding a brush with a palette at the side, this work also signifies Pan’s self-consciousness as an innovative female artist. Indeed, the pose illustrates her strong character and stance towards her work, despite the criticism her avant-garde work sparked in her country.

Liu Haisu (Chinese, 1896-1994)
Cloudy Mount Huang
Oil on canvas, framed
HK$1,200,000 - 1,800,000

Liu Haisu dedicatedly executed the composition of Cloudy Mount Huang to accentuate the majestic expanse of Mount Huang, a significant subject of Liu’s art. In 1954, he declared that he was finally able to comprehend the essence of the Mount Huang scenery after numerous trips for inspiration. Using solid and bold outlines, Liu captured the dynamic and ever-changing beauty of Mount Huang with his refining brush. Cloudy Mount Huang is a classical example of the oil paintings of his peak period in the 1950s.

Wang Yidong (Chinese, b.1955)
Silk and Silence
Oil on canvas, framed
Dated 1990
115cm x 88.3cm (45¼in x 34¾in).
HK$2,800,000 - 4,600,000

In Silk and Silence, Wang Yidong masters a rare balance, where time seems suspended. This exceptional work shows the painter’s mastery of light and the rendering of flesh and fabrics, notably textures and folds. The balance of the composition attains perfection and makes the figure look even more immersed in her activity, creating a solemn atmosphere and giving her the stance of a Madonna surrounded with a halo of divine light. This work is one of Wang Yidong’s most accomplished and original paintings.

The highlights of the Asian Contemporary Art section include:

Zeng Fanzhi (Chinese, b.1964)

Oil on canvas, dated 2006
150 x 120cm (59 1/16 x 47 1/4in).

Zeng Fanzhi’s versatile inspiration and his ability to explore the manner of Western masters to infuse new works are clearly illustrated in this untitled portrait. A different series from the famous "Masks", it shows the inspiration Zeng Fanzhi found in the work of the British painter Bacon. Different features of the artist's work are fused, such as a tormented face and hands of exaggerated scale, or painting on the raw canvas. It exemplifies how the iconic contemporary Chinese artist renders the human character. In this regard, this portrait is a truly iconic work in which many of Zeng Fanzhi's series are apparent. The accomplishment and the leading role the artist has played in the Chinese art scene are about to be acknowledged in a major retrospective at the Modern art museum in Paris.

Shang Yang (Chinese, born 1942)
Dong Qichang's Plan-3 (triptych) Signed "Shang" in English and dated 06
Signed in Chinese and English, dated 2006 and titled in Chinese on the reverse of the left panel
Mixed media on canvas
223 x 505cm (87 13/16 x 198 13/16in).
HK$5,000,000 - 6,000,000

Shang Yang's works command attention, speaking of contemporary issues through references to Chinese culture. Although already a mature and established artist, he constantly renews himself and evolves through experiments. Shang Yang keeps the same drive to contribute to modernism.

The Dong Qichang Project series have been acknowledged by the academic world, the market and collected by museums. In this series, Shang Yang comments on the fact that a fleeting contemporary culture has eroded a millennial traditional Chinese logic of self-sufficiency, harmony and unity.

Fang Lijun (Chinese, b.1963)
1999-3-1 Dated 1999
woodcut (in 6 parts)
488 x 732cm (192 1/8 x 288 3/16in).

Fang Lijun’s early and exceptional large woodblock print, dated and titled 1999-3-1, commands the connoisseur’s attention. Each and every protagonist of this scene is bold, a feature of the artist’s work, showing his cynical position and the discontent of a generation. The chosen craft is the Chinese traditional art of the woodblock print. This majestic and grand work has notably been exhibited recently in Shanghai at the Power Station of Art. One edition of this very work has been donated by the artist himself to the CAFA art museum to represent his work. This work is very rare among Fang Lijun’s woodblock prints.

Xue Song (Chinese, born 1965)
Mao Signed in Chinese
Mixed media on canvas, dated 2001
100 x 80cm (39 3/8 x 31 1/2in).
HK$300,000 - 380,000

A selection of Xue Song’s painting and collages will be offered, from the representation of such political heroes as Lei Feng or Che Guevara in paper cuts and ashes to an early oil painting representing Mao Zedong’s profile. Xue Song is one of the most seminal artists from Shanghai and the variety of topics he explored is impressive.

Zhou Chunya (Chinese, b.1955)
Green Dog
signed, dated 2005 and numbered on the base
steel and industrial paint
60 wide, 210cm deep, 100cm high (23.5" wide, 82.5" deep, 39" high)

Zhou Chunya’s Green Dog is a rare and slick version of the artist’s iconic series. While the paintings of Green Dogs are inspired by German Neo-expressionism and traditional Chinese paintings, this sculpture is drastically contemporary. The Green Dog series have been inspired by the artist’s beloved German Shepherd Heigen and are meant to be a symbolic self portrait of the artist.

Chen Ke (Chinese, b.1978)
Waiting for the Blossom Time
Painted in 2007
oil on canvas
160 x 160cm (63 x 63in).

Chen Ke is one of the rising stars of the younger generation and her talent has been acclaimed by many international shows. Her work, including “Waiting for the Blossom Time” represents the experience of the single child generation. A character, most of the time female, left to herself and experiencing solitude, appears lost in thoughts. In this case the character waits for a burgeon about to blossom, like the protagonist herself. The context is otherworldly, the work is inspired by the aesthetics of Cartoon, and imbued with the artist’s sentimentality. Her craft is extremely labour intensive and she is a very dedicated painter.

Ronald Ventura (Filipino, b.1973)
Treasure/ Early Consumer
Executed in 2010
Oil on canvas/ Sculpture in old TV (Fiberglass, Resin, Polyurethane paint)
152 x 152cm (59 13/16 x 59 13/16in).

Filipino artist Ronald Ventura is one of the most recognised artists of his generation in Asia. He skyrocketed to international fame with very high records at auction and is one of two examples only of artists born in the 1970s to have attained such heights on the contemporary Asian art market. The multi-layering of images and dense information from visual culture in his works is a metaphor for Filipino identity. The artist infuses his works with references to the Western popular culture, notably cartoon figures that have also been assimilated in the Philippines through consumer objects. His painting skills are remarkable. His signature tones, almost monochrome, are created through a painstaking process of layering hues of grey and sepia. The aesthetic result is reminiscent of old photographs and infuses the work with a sense of nostalgia. Opening a window into intimate scenes, Ventura depicts human nature and the emotions, desires, feelings of the characters in his works are immediately perceptible to the viewer. In this installation, the painting enhances the sculpture, each giving a glance to a scene of the Filipino people’s real life. The TV instead of showing some drama, reveals a modest family outside in a typical south east Asian local neighborhood setting. The painting itself depicts a domestic interior, a set of shelf made from scrap wood, to hold the humble and basic possessions of the household. Another TV is embedded in its pattern, the sole object rendered in pink hues, in which the face of the mother appears, anxious, counting money. Both scenes give a sense of intimacy and are related to one another through the family pictures clearly depicting the characters in both the physical and painted TVs. Each title open the works to multiple interpretations: the painting “ Treasure” could be a reference to the painted TV itself or to the money shown in it and echoes the actual TV, “Early Consumer” maybe a reference to the kid himself or to shopping at dawn.

Agus Suwage (Indonesian, b.1959)
Eruskan!! Makin Sakit Makin Baik
Painted in 2009
Oil on linen
200 x 250cm (78 3/4 x 98 7/16in).

Agus Suwage is one of the most famous contemporary Indonesian artists. Trained as a graphic designer, his drawing skills are remarkable as clearly exemplified in this work. Suwage has worked with different media, with a strong focus on paintings. His works speak of life and death, of the transience of the human nature and of human relations with animals or objects. Through images of popular culture, the artist comments on religion, consumerism, and the Indonesian society. In this case, he chose to depict a scooter, the most common vehicle in Indonesia and more specifically a Vespa, the most famous brand of scooters and an icon in itself. This painting is part of a very famous series where the artist used the Christian imagery of the martyr Saint Sebastian. The iconography of the Saint pierced by arrows is here used to convey the idea of sacrifice. In this work, Suwage portrays the object human characteristics, such as language and feelings. The scooter is represented speaking in Bahasa: “Teruskan!! Makin Sakit, Makin Baik…”, which means “Keep going!! the more pain, the better…” from the front and with the onomatopoeia expressing pain “Nguik!” coming from its back.

Highlights of the South East Asian Art section include:

Haji Widayat (Indonesian, 1923-2002)
Flamboyant Tree
Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Widayat and dated 85
125cm x 160.5cm (49¼in x 63¼in).
HK$620,000 - 940,000

Widayat is probably the most versatile artist of the 20th century in Indonesia. His works are aesthetically varied, and coming from many sources of inspiration. His works are extremely detailed in the most exquisite fashion. He seems to have explored almost all forms of modernity that came about in the turn of the 20th century in the West, but also infused in terms of content with Javanese legends. A sense of fantasy is present in his works, which often revolve around genesis.

Stylistically his works are almost naive, however his language is completely unique and that is why Widayat stands out, inspire by both the main schools of mid-20th century Indonesian art and the Bandung and Yogjakarta schools, but without belonging to any of them. Widayat is an individual and completely original artist.

Roland Strasser (Austrian, 1895-1974)
Sawa Plower 26 Bali
Oil on canvas, framed
86.5cm x 59cm (34in x 23¼in).
HK$100,000 - 150,000

As a continuation to the Fine Chinese Paintings and Contemporary Asian Art sale at Bonhams Hong Kong on 23 November 2012, the same Californian private collector has released another 10 lots by this artist to the market. This batch of works includes oil on canvas as well as renditions on paper in watercolour, charcoal, pastel and gouache, demonstrating Strasser's dexterity in working with different media. His subjects are also diverse which range from Balinese boatmen and beauties to Japanese geishas as well as his self portrait. These works exemplify Strasser's personal image and his fascination with Asia, also documenting his colourful and well-travelled life.

Austrian-born artist Roland Strasser studied painting in Vienna and Munich in the 1910s. He first travelled to Indonesia in 1920 and also visited Siam, New Guinea, China, India, Mongolia, Tibet, Japan and North Africa. Returning to Bali in 1934, Strasser lived and painted in his studio in the mountainous area of Kintamani for the next ten years, producing many portraits, figure studies and landscapes depicting the local scene.

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