Catherine Asquith Art Advisory
If I could own any artwork without needing to consider price, my choice would be Zhang Xiaogang’s “Bloodline: Big Family No 3.” (1995). Which is interesting, at least for me, because 10 years ago I doubt very much this work would have been my selection, let alone even on my radar. The truth is were I not to have been seduced by the Asian art market several years ago, and such was only the result of having travelled and lived within the region, I may very well have ‘overlooked’ this artist, an artist who is now considered as holding a paramount position within the Asian art market. Quite simply, my travels and exposure to new and very different cultures, has thankfully, opened my eyes to what is ostensibly, a new aesthetic.
I still retain a strong interest in the comfortable enclaves of ‘western art’, and indeed, from time to time, covet ridiculously expensive artworks from this market. But if anything, my working knowledge of Asian art enhances, perhaps even, amplifies, my appreciation of the global art scene.
Interestingly, if we chart the backstory to Zhang’s art career, it is a similar story insofar as his travels and exposure to Europe and its ‘master’ artists, that impacted deeply on his practice; moreover though, his engagement with foreign cultures, visual and otherwise, caused him to consider more thoughtfully, his position as a :”Chinese artist”. As Zhang observed: “I looked from the ‘early phase’ to the present for a position for myself, but even after this I still didn’t know who I was. But an idea did emerge clearly: if I continue being an artist, I have to be an artist of ‘China.’”
The question I am interested in addressing, is how much does travel impact on one’s art appreciation?
Zhang Xiaogang’s Bloodline: Big Family No 3, was auctioned (Lot 145) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on 5 April 2014, with an estimate of HKD65,000,000 to 80,000,000. It achieved a hammer price of HKD94,200,000 with buyer’s premium. Sotheby’s catalogue entry for the work noted its provenance as “Property from an Important Private Asian Collection”. The extensive catalogue note can be read here.