Art auction in focus: Christie’s Hong Kong Spring 2012 Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale

HONG KONG CONTEMPORARY ASIAN ART AUCTIONS

Bidders demonstrated continuing caution at Christie’s Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale, held 27 May 2012 in Hong Kong. The auction house experienced sales remarkably similar to its autumn 2011 offering, with 28 percent of the 294-lot sale failing to sell.

Christie's Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale's highest selling work: Shang Yang's 'Hearth', oil on canvas 82 x 90 cm. (32 1/4 x 35 3/8 in.) Painted in 1988. Sold for five times estimates for a final price of HK$6,380,000 ($825,932). Image courtesy of Christie's.

Christie's Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale's highest selling work: Shang Yang's 'Hearth', oil on canvas 82 x 90 cm. (32 1/4 x 35 3/8 in.) Painted in 1988. Sold for five times estimates for a final price of HKD6,380,000 (USD825,932). Image courtesy Christie's.

Contemporary art day sale “muted affair”

In comparison to Christie’s Asian Twentieth Century and Contemporary Art Saturday evening sale, ARTINFO described the Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale as “a more muted affair“. Including Christie’s hefty buyer’s premium, which can add up to 25 percent to the winning bid, the May 2012 Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale brought in excess of HKD97.2 million/USD12.4 million, a relatively unsuccessful result for this sizeable sale of 294 lots. In comparison, Christie’s Autumn 2011 Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale brought HKD16.2/USD2.1 million in revenues despite 21 fewer lots.

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*Includes both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Click here to browse the Christie’s catalogue for more prices and lot details from the Hong Kong Spring 2012 Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale).

The sale's highest yielding Japanese work: Yayoi Kusama's 'Pumpkin', painted FRP sculpture, 120 x 120 x 110 cm. (47 1/4 x 47 1/4 x 23 1/4 in.) Executed in 2007. Met sales expectations for a final price of HKD3,140,000 (USD406,493). Image courtesy Christie's.

Strongest nationalities: Japanese, Indonesian

Japanese, Indonesian and Filipino works emerged as the more highly sought nationalities of contemporary Asian art works, as indicated by the percentage of sales. 25 of the 29 offered Indonesian works sold, resulting in 86 percent of Indonesian works trading. Filipino works were also well received, with thirteen of fifteen works selling to eager bidders. Filipino art was the fifth most highly represented nationality, after Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean, respectively.

Renewed buyer interest in Japanese art

The strength of Japanese art was especially notable in this sale, with art from the country seeing renewed buyer interest since a lacklustre performance in the fall of 2011. In this auction, 31 of 35 Japanese works found buyers (86 percent), versus 20 of 28 (71.5 percent) in the previous season.

The Christie’s Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale’s highest yielding Indonesian work: I Nyoman Masriadi’s ‘Banana King’, oil on canvas, 124.5 x 145.5 cm. (49 x 57 1/8 in.) Painted in 2002. Realized twice its estimated value to bring HK$1,220,000 ($157,937). Image courtesy of Christie’s.

The Christie’s Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale’s highest yielding Indonesian work: I Nyoman Masriadi’s ‘Banana King’, oil on canvas, 124.5 x 145.5 cm. (49 x 57 1/8 in.) Painted in 2002. Realised twice its estimated value to bring HKD1,220,000 (USD157,937). Image courtesy Christie’s.

Indonesian sales met, exceeded expectations

Indonesian art performed consistently well, with 24 of 29 lots meeting and often exceeding sales expectations (buyer’s premium included). The sale’s highest yielding Indonesian artist was I Nyoman Masriadi’s Banana King, bringing HKD 1 million/USD128,000 from an online bidder, far exceeding estimates of HKD550,000-800,000/USD70,500 to 102,500. The only Indonesian lot in the Day Sale that did not meet expectations was Lot 2597 by Andy Dewantoro, Beyond the Sunrise, which yielded HKD47,500 despite valuations at HKD50,000 to 70,000.

35 percent of Chinese works unsold

This offering of Asian contemporary art was dominated by Chinese works, which comprised 177 of the 294 lots (60 percent). Of these, 62 (35 percent) failed to sell, and this amounted to 74 percent of the total unsold works. Although a greater volume of Chinese works sold to other nationalities, there appears to be a slowing in buyer appetites for non blue chip Chinese art works in comparison to the Christie’s autumn 2011 sale. Though this session featured thirty more Chinese lots than the autumn instalment, 62 of these works remained unsold versus 39 in the previous sale.

Wang Guangyi’s ‘Great Criticism: Sinopec’. Oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm. (19 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.) Painted in 2003. Surprisingly sold for a relatively low hammer price of HK$200,000. Meanwhile, 3 other paintings in the artist’s Great Criticism series also went unsold.

Wang Guangyi’s ‘Great Criticism: Sinopec’. Oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm. (19 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.) Painted in 2003. Surprisingly sold for a relatively low hammer price of HKD200,000. Meanwhile, 3 other paintings in the artist’s Great Criticism series also went unsold.

Wang Guangyi, Qi Zhilong overlooked

Work by Chinese artists Wang Guangyi and Qi Zhilong was especially overlooked; four pieces by each artist remained unsold at the close of Christie’s Hong Kong Spring 2012 Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale. It was especially notable that three pieces from Guangyi’s Great Criticism series went unsold, and another Gaungyi piece, Great Criticism: Sinopec (Lot 2446), sold to a hammer price of HKD200,000 despite a valuation of HKD250,000-350,000.

Surprise under-performance: Zhang Huan's 'Tire'. Iron sculpture, 312 x 200 x 197 cm. Edition 2/3. Executed in 2005. Despite valuations at HKD500,000 to 600,000, the work passed after being offered at no reserve for just HKD50,ooo.

Surprise under-performance: Zhang Huan

Another offering of particular curiosity was Lot 2453 by Zhang Huan, which was valued at HKD600,000 to HKD800,000. The work failed to catch the eye of art buyers despite no reserve and a solid provenance. The iron sculpture, entitled Tire, was first offered for HKD80,000/USD10,200, and then HKD50,000/USD6,400. Finally, with buyers disinterested in the bargain priced work and unwilling to suggest a lower offer, the lot passed. Meanwhile, just the day before at Christie’s Asian Twentieth Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, the same artist achieved impressive sales success with Lot 2033, Rubens, a bronze sculpture with gold patina that traded for twice its highest estimated value, bringing a final price of HKD2.6 million/USD344,354.

Ma Liuming’s ‘Untitled No. 15’. Oil on canvas. 298 x 199.5 cm. Painted in 2005-2006. Although estimated at HKD80-120K (USD10,300-15,400K), the work passed after being offered for just HKD10,000 (USD1,200).

Under-performance: Ma Liuming

Another surprise bargain offer was Ma Liuming’s, Untitled No. 15 (Lot 2463), which was inexplicably passed over by buyers even despite the auctioneer’s asking price of just HKD10,000 (USD1,200) for the no-reserve lot. The work was estimated in value at HK80,000 to 120,000 (USD10,200 to 15,400). Buyers, it seemed, were not interested in even the best of deals and were unwilling to entertain unplanned purchases.

Overachiever: Liu Dahong’s ‘The Honeymoon’, oil on canvas 60 x 73 cm. (23 1/2 x 28 2/3 in.) Painted in 1991. Sold for over five times estimates after a ‘bidding war’ to yield HKD2,540,000 (USD328,820). Image courtesy Christie’s.

Overachievers: Liu Dahong, Shang Yang

The surprise performers of the evening include Liu Dahong’s The Honeymoon (Lot 2494), an oil work on canvas executed in 1991. The work was estimated at HKD180,000 to 260,000 (USD23,100 to 33,000) but instead sold for over ten times this estimate. The work brought a final price of HKD2,540,000/USD328,820 after a heated bidding war between two buyers on the phone lines, and prompted applause from spectators in the Hong Kong auction room. Immediately following this heated success, the next offered work was a comparable painting, also by Liu Dahong, entitled Golden Rules and Jade Precepts. However, the market received it modestly within its estimated value.

Shang Yang’s Lot 2396, Hearth, is another great example of highly unanticipated final pricing, and managed to achieve the highest price of the contemporary day sale. Estimated at HKD800,000 to 1,200,000, this piece sold for over five times its expectations to a phone bidder for a final price of HKD6,380,000/USD825,932.

Indian contemporary art absent

Artwork by Indian artists was noticeably absent from this session of Christie’s Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale, and not a single piece of Indian art was offered throughout Christie’s spring 2012 Hong Kong auction period. With 73 percent of Indian artworks failing to sell in the autumn 2011 installment, Christie’s may have chosen to overlook the genre completely and focus on more promising prospects.

 EW/KN/HH

Related Topics: market watch – art auctions, art happenings in Hong Kong

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