Ronald Ventura contemporary standout: Christie’s autumn 2012 art evening sale

Art Radar was in the room for the Christie’s autumn 2012 evening art sale. We bring you a closer look at the evening’s buyers, key purchases, passes and possible future trends for the contemporary section.

The Christie’s evening sale of Asian twentieth century and contemporary art, held on Saturday 24 November at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, brought in HKD420,400,000 (including buyer’s premium), inching the auction house closer towards the reported HKD2.2 billion total expected revenue from their autumn 2012 sales series.

Zeng Fanzhi, 'Mask Series : No. 10', 148.5 x 128 cm. Sold to phone bidder for HKD7,500,000 (excl buyer's premium); Chrisitie’s estimate HKD10,000,000-15,000,000. Image by Art Radar.

Zeng Fanzhi, 'Mask Series : No. 10', 148.5 x 128 cm. Sold to phone bidder for HKD7,500,000 (excluding buyer's premium); Chrisitie’s estimate HKD10,000,000-15,000,000. Image by Art Radar.

There was general excitement within the room, which filled up at 7 pm for the start of the auction. The crowd was diverse: a mixture of expatriates, mainlanders and members of the wealthy Hong Kong Chinese set. Christie’s staff seemed cautious, controlled and even a little anxious.

All sold prices include buyer’s premium.

All sold prices include buyer’s premium. Image/Information courtesy Christie's.

In the room

Enthusiastic response to 20th Century Asian art

Excitement surrounded the twentieth century art sales: the bidding crowd was very enthusiastic and made a lot of noise when high level bids took place. There were genuine bidding wars between phone buyers and those in the room.

Christie’s broke two records in the twentieth century category of this sale, each of which drew huge amounts of applause.

  • Chu Teh-Chun, French/Chinese, La Forêt Blanche II, painted in 1987, (overall) 130 x 390 cm, estimate on request, sold for HKD53,000,000 (excluding buyers premium) to a phone bidder.
  • Cheong Soo Pieng, Singaporean, Abstract Triptych, (overall) 127 x 276 cm, painted in 1963, estimate HKD450-600K, sold for HKD3,000,000 (excluding buyers premium).

Final sale prices ranged from HKD19,000,000 to HKD22,000,000 (excluding buyers premium).

Contemporary Asian art: Chinese art underperforms

As the auctioneer moved onto the contemporary art segment of the sale, the level of excitement in the room dropped. A buzz surrounded the second lot in the section, Untitled by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, and Crossed Trip (Humanime Series) by Philippine artist Ronald Ventura was another standout lot that sold at a price significantly greater than the high estimate. Although buyer interest began to peter out significantly when Lot 37, Liu Ye’s Composition with Black, White and Grey, was reached, Rudi Mantofani’s Cahaya Bumi (Light earth), Lot 38, sparked a bidding war between a phone buyer and a bidder in the room.

Zhang Xiaogang, '2001 No. 8', 200 x 260 cm. Sold in the sale room for HKD10,500,000 (excluding buyer's premium). Christie’s estimate HKD11,000,000-16,000,000. Image by Art Radar.

Zhang Xiaogang, '2001 No. 8', 200 x 260 cm. Sold in the sale room for HKD10,500,000 (excluding buyer's premium). Christie’s estimate HKD11,000,000-16,000,000. Image by Art Radar.

The sale really started to empty out when the auctioneer reached Lot 39 and 40, both works by Zhang Xiaogang that sold for below the low estimate. The auctioneer whizzed through the seven remaining lots, all of them Japanese. Two passed and the sale ended on a high note with Lot 46, Tetsuya Ishida’s Untitled, selling at HKD3,200,000, a price well above the Christie’s high estimate. Although the room was almost empty, the sale drew applause from the crowd and the night ended well for the auction house.

Below we list the sales information for the contemporary section of Christie’s 24 November 2012 evening art sale.

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Tetsuya Ishida, Untitled', 2001, oil on canvas, 130 x 194 cm.

Tetsuya Ishida, Untitled', 2001, oil on canvas, 130 x 194 cm.

Southeast Asian art set to dominate?

Christie’s has been wise to include Southeast Asian, Korean and Japanese art in the Hong Kong auctions over the two to three years. In this sale, there was very strong and genuine interest from a culturally diverse range of buyers for Indonesian and Filipino artists. Japanese artists sold at or below estimate, or in the case of artist Masami Teraoka, both paintings were passed.

The buyers in the room were aggressive, with bidding prices matching those of the call ins, and there were notable bidding wars between buyers in the room and phone bidders for some works including Mondrian, Dick Bruna and I by Liu Ye, Cahaya Bumi (Light Earth) by Rudi Mantofani, On the Way to Revolution by Aya Takano and Untitled by Tetsuya Ishida.

Want more on contemporary art performance in the Christie’s autumn 2012 sales series? Stop back here in three days time for a total sales and press coverage round up.

PLG/PR/KN/HH

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

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