A selection of superb contemporary arts by Southeast Asian masters will be offered at Christie’s Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art sale in Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre on 27 May. The auction promises to be a visual fiesta celebrating the vivacious style and dynamics of the art of the region. The sale also features sumptuous pieces from prestigious private collections, featuring works by Le Mayeur, Affandi and Le Pho.
In this Spring auction series, Christie's Hong Kong will introduce a real-time multi-media auction service Christie’s LIVE™, becoming the first international auction house in Asia to offer fine art through live online auctions. Christie’s LIVE™ enables collectors around the world to bid from their personal computers while enjoying the look, sound and feel of the sale.
Christie’s is the world's leading art business with global auction sales in 2006 that totaled £2.51 billion / $4.67 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service, and international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's conducted the greatest auctions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and today remains a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 600 sales annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine, cars and more. Christie’s has 85 offices in 43 countries and 14 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Dubai and Hong Kong. Most recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in emerging markets such as China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Dubai, Mumbai and Russia.
Le Mayeur’s works (Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, 1880-1958), from the private collection in London gentlelman feature Women around the lotus pond (Lot 38, Estimate: HK$8,000,000-10,000,000/ US$1,120,000-1,282,100). Le Mayeur was the consummate Impressionist. Differing effects of colour and light on a subject captivated him throughout his career. Compared to his pre-war Balinese works, the figures in the present lot are smaller and less the centre of attention. Instead, attention is given to the arrangement of foliage and the wide array of lighting effects from the tropical sun, and spaciousness is enhanced by the inclusion of the sea and beach in the background. Measuring 150 x 200 cm, Women around the lotus pond is extraordinary, as it is one of the only six paintings by Le Mayeur of this size known to exist.
True to his spirit as an Impressionist and painter-traveller, Le Mayeur sought light, colour and beauty – a quest which took him to faraway places all over the world. Finally at the age of 52, he discovered his ideal location, the Indonesian island of Bali. There he married his favourite model Pollock, a young Balinese girl. Bali became a rich stimulant for Le Mayeur, and he devoted himself to depicting his immediate surroundings: the Balinese people, the luxuriant flora, the beach and the sea that are all bathed in shimmering light.
Other Indonesian masters feature Affandi (1907-1990) and Hendra Gunawan. These two masters are very well-known in the region, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Both of their works are well exhibited in Indonesian galleries. Affandi’s other works are also exhibited at Affandi Gallery, a gallery run by his own daughter, Kartika Affandi, also a painter, is open for public viewing in Jogjakarta. The Affandi’s collection, 11 works, for Christie’s auction is from a private collection in America. This year, 2007, marks the 100th birthday of Affandi. Affandi had an extremely prolific career and was active from the 1950’s up until his death in 1990. He painted some of the most memorable icons of Indonesian modern art and is considered the “people’s artist” – all this from a boy who used to paint with mud and water on the kitchen floor at the tender age of one. Affandi is a true Expressionist, injecting his works with great passion and vigour. His use of colour and brushstroke technique never fail to amaze his viewers.
Highlights in the collection include Cockfight (Lot 81, Estimate; HK$650,000-800,000/ US$83,400-102,600), St. Mark’s Square (Lot 86, Estimate: HK$480,000-650,000/ US$61,600-83,300), and Balinese dancer (Lot 38, Estimate: HK$650,000-800,000/ US$83,300-102,600). Superbly executed in the prime years of Affandi’s career, these works best demonstrate the artist’s unique compositions constructed in clusters of smears of paint. Varied colours and textures allow whatever subject is depicted to float across the surface of the canvas, and to be animated only by the ebullient brushwork that never fails to convey an atmospheric effect.
Like his contemporary Affandi, Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983) is another people’s artist who was however known for his absolute and defining infatuation with all things Indonesian. Like a visual storyteller, Hendra Gunawa expressions of his own reality, encapsulated in a style that was accessible to all Indonesians because of its warmth, sensitivity and humanity. The effects of his paintings are immediate and unabashed – colours are used generously and in the most idiosyncratic manner. Of particular note is Street Musician (Lot 108, Estimate: HK$800,000-1,000,000/ US$102,600-128,200) where Hendra’s celebration of people is typically conveyed with the use of bright colour. The sheer size and importance Hendra has given to his figures clearly illustrates the way he saw his fellow countrymen - they are content and with no trace of depression or despondency. In expressing his own spirituality and resolve, he incarnates the soul of his country and its people.
Ramon Orlina, a Pinoy, born in 1944, makes his vision comprehensible and crystallize it for a contemporary audience. Here in Michael’s martial arts form 07-01 (Lot 15), the work is estimate at HK$30,000-40,000/ US$3,900-5,100. Ramon’s work is also exhibited locally at R.A.Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur.
Other Southeast Asian artists presented at the coming auction include Natee Utarit, Le Pho, I Nyoman Masriadi and Gabriel Barredo. Hopefully in the near future, the works of Malaysian artists will also be featured at the Christie’s Auction. Surely we could line up our master painters like Ibrahim Hussein, Syed Ahmad Jamal, Redza Piyadasa, Hussein Enas, Nik Zainal Abidin and so on.