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Sotheby's HK Contemporary Asian Art Spring Sale to be led by "Brushwork - From Asia to the World"
Ai Weiwei (b. 1957), Grapes, 2012. 35 stools from the Qing dynasty, 150 (H) x 202 x 206 cm. Est. HK$4 – 6 million / US$513,000 – 769,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s Contemporary Asian Art Spring Sale 2016 will take place from 3 – 4 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This season’s sale is led by Brushwork – From Asia to The World (3 April), a specially-curated auction encompassing 20 abstract works by contemporary artists from China, Japan, Korea, the United States and France. Focusing on the reinterpretation of brushwork by post-war artists from the East and West, the auction unveils their interaction and mutual influences on each other from an academic perspective. The Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale taking place on the same day will present a line-up of masterpieces, including Liu Wei and Kusama Yayoi’s monumental paintings, alongside other large-scale installations and sculptures. On 4 April, the Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Day Sale will showcase works on paper by post-war Asian masters. Together, the three sales will offer more than 170 lots, estimated in excess of HK$180 million / US$23 million*.

Evelyn Lin, Head of Contemporary Asian Art at Sotheby’s, said: “Sotheby’s retains its leading position in the contemporary Asian art market evidenced by the outstanding results achieved last autumn. Following the Avant Garde Asia exhibition and Full Circle – Yoshihara Jiro Collection auction in 2015, this spring we continue to explore postwar abstract art with Brushwork – From Asia to The World, a specially-curated sale showcasing interactions between abstract artists from Asia and the West and re-evaluating this important period of art history from a comprehensive perspective. The Evening and Day Sales will also put forth a rich array of contemporary works by established and emerging artists. We look forward to expanding our horizons in art appreciation with collectors and fellow art lovers, and discovering the many possibilities that Contemporary Asian Art brings.”

In recent years, there has been a reinvigorated climate of renewed focus on the influence of Asian abstract art, led by Western academia and art institutions. As a pioneer in this genre, Sotheby’s Contemporary Asian Art Department curated the Brushwork – From Asia to The World Special Sale, offering 20 meticulously-selected international abstract works, including those by celebrated Gutai artists Shiraga Kazuo and Yoshihara Jiro, French and American artists Pierre Soulages and Sam Francis, as well as Chinese representative Cai Guo-Qiang and Park Seobo from Korea.

Guided by an emphasis on spirituality, a focus on inner truth over mimetic representation, and the prioritisation of materials from nature, post-war Asian artists forged a unique aesthetic that inspired their contemporaries at home as well as the Western avant-garde. This sale turns our vision towards one of the most variable and innovative components of post-war artistic creation: the reinterpretation of brushwork, which manifested in gestural abstraction and the use of knives, gunpowder and bare hands and feet. Through Brushwork, Sotheby’s Hong Kong reveals overlooked similarities between art from the East and West, unveiling connected parallels in the pioneering post-war landscape.

ARTISTS IN FOCUS Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale | 3 April
Liu Wei (b. 1965) The Revolutionary Family Series (triptych) 1994, oil on canvas and wood, 172 x 381 cm Est. HK$30 – 40 million / US$3.8 – 5.1 million

The Revolutionary Family is recognised as the most iconic series from Liu Wei, the leader of Cynical Realism. The Revolutionary Family Series (triptych) (1994) is a representative piece from this important series marking the height of Liu’s early career. Specially commissioned and painted in 1994, its majestic composition is unseen elsewhere in the artist’s early oeuvre. Also the only triptych from the famed series, it comes with a unique hand-painted frame, making it a museum-quality masterpiece of Chinese contemporary art from the 1990s. The Revolutionary Family series was inspired by Liu’s life in the communal quarters of the military. He often uses playful brushwork to deform his parents in these paintings; his uniformed father in particular is shown without any authority or solemnity, and instead becomes a cartoonish figure. Liu sarcastically approaches twisted realities as a means of questioning a hegemonic political system and its values.

Kusama Yayoi (b. 1929) Infinity-Nets (OQABT) (detail) 2007, acrylic on canvas, 288 x 556 cm Est. HK$12 – 15 million / US$1.5 – 1.9 million
A legendary pioneer in post-war art, Kusama Yayoi has received worldwide acclaim for her iconic Infinity Nets series. Infinity-Nets (OQABT) is one of the largest paintings by the celebrated artist ever to appear at auction. Monumentally beautiful and expansively disorientating, this vast, five-metre-tall canvas is spectacular for its rhythmic undulations of small, thickly painted loops that create a lyrical and mysterious shifting structure. These reproductions of nets and dots are in fact autobiographical, an effort by the artist to ‘self-obliterate’ the hallucinatory visions caused by her obsessional neurosis – making these works all the more unique.

Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) Grapes 2012 35 stools from the Qing dynasty, 150 (H) x 202 x 206 cm Est. HK$4 – 6 million / US$513,000 – 769,000
In 1997, celebrated Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei began creating antique furniture ready-mades with Dadaist inflections. Works from this series, of which Grapes is highly representative, have been prominently featured in many of the artist’s solo exhibitions at leading institutions around the world. Made up of 35 wooden stools from the Qing Dynasty, the work is linked together with mortise and tenon joints; opening outward from the middle, they resemble a cluster of grapes. In this work, vintage objects that have their own histories become an artwork in the form of a readymade item infused with a critique of China’s approach to its own cultural history.

Tanaka Atsuko (1932–2005) 95C 1995, synthetic resin on canvas, 146 x 112.5 cm Est. HK$4.5 – 7.5 million / US$577,000 – 962,000
Strident and electrifying, Tanaka Atsuko’s omnipresent circles and lines constitute an important element of the artist’s groundbreaking, career-long exploration of sound, performance, technology and mixed media. In each work and taken together as an oeuvre, they form a potent symphony celebrating the all-encompassing sublimity of life and interconnectivity. Instantly recognisable as an iconic work by the artist, 95C features jostling, pulsating circles that evoke the frenzied blinking lights of Japan’s neon cityscape.

Zhang Enli (b. 1965) The Rest of the Paint No. 2 2011, oil on canvas, 199 x 249.5 cm Est. HK$1.6 – 2.5 million / US$205,000 – 321,000
The turn of the 21st century marked a pivotal moment in the career of legendary Chinese painter Zhang Enli. In 2000, he began painting a series of inanimate objects that would become a signature motif playing a crucial role in his oeuvre. The sentiments of isolation and emptiness found in these works became the crux of his widely popular Container series. The Rest of the Paint No. 2, a representative large-scale oil painting from the series, depicts containers of various sizes, including buckets, bottles, cups and dishes. Gathered together in one corner of the artist's studio, these objects reveal the poetic beauty of the everyday. Notably, three of Zhang’s Buckets paintings from the series are kept in the permanent collection of the Tate Modern in the United Kingdom.

Liang Yuanwei (b. 1977) Piece of Life No. 7 2007, oil on canvas, 139.9 x 120 cm Est. HK$600,000 – 800,000 / US$77,000 – 103,000
Making her debut at Sotheby’s Evening sale this season is Chinese artist Liang Yuanwei. Piece of Life No. 7 (2007) is an early representative work from her Fragments of Life series. Painted in a confined Beijing apartment, works from the series are infused with the fervour of conceptual exploration and resistance against the artistic milieu. The patterns seen in the series originate from household fabrics like clothes and curtains. Rich in detail, they demanded an extreme degree of patience and dedication from the artist during the painting process. For Liang, restraint is a virtue; the repetitive brushwork on her canvases embodies her purpose and resolve.

CRYSTALLINE INSURGENCIES: CONTEMPORARY KOREAN SCULPTURE Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale | 3 April Contemporary Asian Art Day Sale | 4 April
In the decades following the Dansaekhwa movement of the 1960s and 1970s, an equally distinctive Korean sculptural aesthetic emerged and has quickly received international attention. Fusing diverse influences from traditional art forms, popular culture and contemporary technology of the time, Korean sculptors created a uniquely multimedia body of work that blossomed, glitteringly iridescent and alluring, into a cutting-edge international aesthetic reflecting the collective psyche of our time. Six works from distinguished artists will be presented this season, including Lee Bul’s dazzling Sternbau No. 4, and Suh Do-Ho’s Cause and Effect made up of thousands of identical tiny figurines.

THE PAPER WORKS OF POST-WAR ASIAN MASTERS Contemporary Asian Art Day Sale | 4 April
Ink and calligraphy art on paper enjoys a profound history tied inextricably with the origin of papermaking in China. In contrast to works on canvas, works on paper allow an unconstrained freedom and ease of gesture, enabling more fluid brushwork and intricate detail. Perhaps for this reason, paper works are believed to be the most direct and pure form of an artist. This special section shines a spotlight on the often-overlooked paper works of iconic post-war Asian masters, from Kusama Yayoi to Lee Ufan, Yamaguchi Takeo to Kim Tschangyeul. Constituting a fascinating study on the specific styles and techniques of each artist, these highly compelling works offer precious new insight on their approaches to brushwork, composition, lines and colours.

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