Monday, May 07, 2007

Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art


Women Around the Lotus Pond by Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès (Estimate: HK$8,000,000-10,000,000/ US$1,120,000-1,282,100). © Christie's Images Ltd.

HONG KONG.- A selection of superb paintings by Southeast Asian masters as well as outstanding works by contemporary artists will be offered at Christie’s Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art sale in Hong Kong 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.

A Private Collection from London featuring Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès (1880-1958). “Except for a few journeys to the Far East, I never left the island. Why should I? Sir, I am an impressionist. There are three things in life that I love: beauty, sunlight and silence. Now could you tell me where to find these in a more perfect state than in Bali?” – Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès.

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.

Christie’s is proud to present in this season a private collection from London featuring rare works by Le Mayeur including 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.

A Centennial Celebration – A Private Collection of a Gentleman from America featuring Affandi (1907-1990). This year, 2007, marks the 100th birthday of Affandi, a renowned Indonesian artist. It is a privilege and honour for Christie’s to present 11 works by Affandi from the private collection of a gentleman from America at this time. 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.

Cockfight St. Mark’s Square. Highlights in this 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. Balinese dancer

Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983) - Ever the skilled visual storyteller, Hendra Gunawa – like his contemporary Affandi, is another people’s artist who was however known for his absolute and defining infatuation with all things Indonesian. His paintings are profound 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.

Le Pho: A Centennial Celebration (1907-2001) – Rare early silk works by Le Pho from a Private Collection, Asia. Christie’s is also delighted to present an extraordinary assemblage of works during the centennial celebration of another renowned artist, Le Pho. This collection comprehensively illustrates the artist’s vast repertoire and versatility in various media. Taking centre-stage is Une mère et ses 3 enfants (A mother with her 3 children) (Lot 63, Estimate: HK$800,000-1,000,000/ US$102,600-128,200), an exceedingly rare early work on silk by Le Pho. The artist uses a fine paint brush with ink and colour on silk to depict a mother playing with her three children. He also successfully combines the elegance and gracefulness reminiscent of Chinese silk paintings with a predominantly classical Western style. Une mère et ses 3 enfants
Jeune fille à la fleur Further highlight includes a large oil on canvas work evocative of Le Pho’s later, more Impressionist style La cueillette des poppies (Gather the poppies) (Lot 67, Estimate: HK$320,000-400,000/ US$41,000-51,300). On the other hand, Jeune fille à la fleur (Young girl with flower) (Lot 64, Estimate: HK$400,000-550,000/ US$51,300-70,500) is a classic female portrait painted with delicate attention to the portrayal of light and colour. La cueillette des poppies

Contemporary Southeast Asian Art: Attracting attention in the world auction market, contemporary Southeast Asian art offers inexhaustible surprises and delights to collectors. It is an exciting area, encompassing works in a dazzlingly rich variety of forms. The use of different materials and media, both new and old, conventional and unconventional, coupled with the wide range of source materials - daily news, comics, movies, music, novels - create an unrivalled visual vocabulary.

Of particular note is Dance by I Nyoman Masriadi (born in 1973) (Lot 8, Estimate: HK$32,000-50,000/ US$4,100-6,400) addressing social issues with a comic fervour; and the eerily exquisite work The absurdity of being by Geraldine Javier (born in 1970) (Lot 26, Estimate: HK$12,000-18,000/ US$1,600-2,300) inspired by scenes of movies and advertisements in magazines. Equally eye-catching is the quirky kinetic sculptural work Tree of life – reaching out by Gabriel Barredo (born in 1957) (Lot 32, Estimate: HK$35,000-50,000/US$4,500-6,400), where history and fantasy are richly interwoven, reflecting his passion for classical objects that still shine in people’s minds, such as opera and ballet.The attempt of Ramon Orlina (born in 1944) to make his vision comprehensible and to crystallize it for a contemporary audience is shown by Michael’s martial arts form 07-01 (Lot 15, E


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