Phillips Hong Kong sale on May 27th will feature a $5m collection of Chinese Contemporary art entitled Pioneers of Modernism: A Selection from the Scheeres Collection. The lead lot is a Zhang Xiaogang work, Bloodline, Big Family No. 9 (above) that comes to market with an estimate upon request. Another work from this same series sold in China five months ago for $4.4m for a much later work. The record for these Big Family works and the artist is slightly more than $12m achieved in 2014.
Comprising 20 lots estimated in excess of HKD 40 million, the collection include historically significant contemporary Chinese works by celebrated artists such as Zhang Xiaogang, Fang Lijun, Yue Minjun, as well as such modern masters as Richard Lin, Sanyu, Le Pho, among others. The highlights will be unveiled in a touring exhibition across key cities in Asia .
Honouring its debut appearance in the market, Pioneers of Modernism: A Selection from the Scheeres Collection will be presented in a dedicated auction preview in H Queen’s Atrium in Hong Kong from 24 to 27 May 2018 alongside Phillips Hong Kong’s Spring Sale 2018 preview held in Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.
Poly Auction Hong Kong's 2018 Spring Modern and Contemporary Art Auction made more than HK$400 million ($50.96m). Nearly half of that total came from Zao Wou-ki's large-scale Et la terre était sans forme (above), which sold at HK$182,900,000 ($23.3m). That sale sets a new record within Zao's 'oracle-bone' series and is the second highest auction price for Zao.
Xue Mo, represented by Catherine Asquith for more than a decade graces a second cover of the acclaimed Norton Anthology of World Literature. View more works by Xue Mo in our Stockroom
The fifth edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong, which featured 242 premier galleries from 34 countries and territories, has ended on a high note. This year’s show included memorable moments such as:
The five show days were attended by private collectors as well as directors, curators, trustees and patrons from nearly 80 leading international museums and institutions across 20 countries, including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Long Museum, Shanghai; MoMA PS1, New York; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; National Gallery Singapore, Singapore; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; New Museum, New York; Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Serpentine Galleries, London; Tate, London and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
With numerous gallery openings and an expanded program of parallel events, the Art Basel week continued to spotlight Hong Kong's vibrant arts and cultural scene.
(from “Art Basel Hong Kong” VIP Program newsletter 4th April 2017)
The fifth edition of Art Basel’s show in Hong Kong will commence on March 21 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai.
Bringing together gallerists, artists, collectors, curators, museum directors and critics from across the globe, Art Basel HK will present a total of 242 leading galleries from Asia, the Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world.
The fair comprises a number sectors: “Galleries”, the fair’s core sector showcases 20th and 21st century works, and also includes the “Insights” sector, the latter highlighting the curatorial projects, and the “Discoveries” sector featuring solo and 2-person projects.
The “Encounters” sector is dedicated to large-scale sculptural installations and performances which punctuate the fair and is invariably a ‘feature’ of the fair, always attracting much attention and appreciation.
The “Kabinett” sector, previously only on show at Art Basel Miami Beach, will make its debut at this year’s ABHK, and features curated projects within selected gallery booths.
Complemented with a program of film, conversations and salons, (and a few parties!), Art Basel Hong Kong offers a stimulating week of all things art.
Beyond the fair, Hong Kong’s thriving arts scene is also on show throughout the week, with exhibitions, events and site-specific installations taking place across the city and beyond.
Sign up to our newsletter to receive our Hong Kong Fairs report upon return.
M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art – the first-ever chronological exhibition of the emergence of Chinese contemporary art – is now open at ArtisTree.
Through more than eighty works by fifty artists – including Ai Weiwei, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Huang Yong Ping, Zhang Peili and Zhang Xiaogang – the exhibition illustrates the evolution of Chinese contemporary art from its inception in the 1970s up to the vibrant art scene of today. The carefully curated selection of painting, sculpture, photography, performance documentation, video, installation, and multimedia from the M+ Sigg Collection also gives a glimpse of the collection that will be on display when the M+ building opens in 2019.
The M+ Sigg Collection is an extraction from Swiss collector Uli Sigg's unique collection. The Sigg Collection is universally recognised as the largest, most comprehensive and important collection in the world of Chinese contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. The collection is especially important as a historical ‘document’ of one of the most culturally dynamic periods in modern Chinese history
Accompanying the exhibition is a series of public learning programmes that includes guided tours, school tours, teachers’ workshops and a private viewing and special talk for secondary teachers.
Date and time: 23 February to 5 April, open daily 11am–8pm
Venue: ArtisTree, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
Items from leading Australian law firm Minter Ellison will be a major highlight of Sotheby’s Australia’s Fine Asian, Australian & European Arts & Design auction from 6pm Tuesday July 21 at the InterContinental Hotel, 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney.
The collection comprises an impressive selection of Australian photography and contemporary art with works by artists such as Adam Cullen, Max Dupain, Bill Henson, Akio Makigawa, Rosemary Laing, Robert MacPherson, Tracey Moffatt, Patricia Piccinini and Imants Tiller.
The firm is selling its collection because it is moving from its old Aurora Place, Sydney offices to new premises, which are largely open plan with fewer walls.
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.
Described as a a contemporary Chinese symbolist and surrealist painter, the Beijing-based artist, Zhang Xiaogang, is recognised on a global scale for his significant and impressive auction presence as much as his extensive exhibition history, his many internationally acclaimed survey exhibitions at blue chip institutions and ongoing scholarship on his oeuvre.
With Christie’s Hong Kong’s forthcoming 15 March sale, Asia+/First Open 拍卖and a shortly to be released monograph (Zhang Xiaogang: Disquieting Memories by Jonathan Fineberg and Gary G Xu, Published by Phaidon), arts writer and journalist, Jonathan Bastable’s “Zhang Xiaogang: Passive resistance” provides a wonderfully succinct and timely introduction to this fascinating artist and his work.
Zhang Xiaogang: Passive resistance
The haunting portraits of Beijing-based artist Zhang Xiaogang hint at a private world that the Maoist regime sought to suppress.
There is always one moment in childhood,’ Graham Greene once remarked, ‘when the door opens and lets the future in.’ In the case of the Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang, … that door was opened in brutal fashion — rudely booted in, you might say, by the teenage zealots of the Red Guard. On 1 September 1966, when Zhang was eight, he arrived at school to find all the teachers absent and his fellow pupils wandering aimlessly in the playground and corridors. ‘Finally our home-room teacher turned up,’ Zhang later recalled. ‘Wearing a sad look, he said that we no longer needed to go to school from that day on. That was the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in my personal memory.’
A couple of years later, Zhang’s father, a government official, was relocated to the countryside to work alongside poor peasants. Meanwhile, his mother was sent to Chengdu for her ‘re-education’. Zhang and his three brothers were left to look after themselves, and the family was not properly reunited until 1973.
The Cultural Revolution not only parted Zhang from his parents and disrupted his schooling, it also cut him off from Western exemplars during his formative period as a painter. Once the Maoist era came to an end, he found himself part of the first generation of Chinese painters to rediscover Western art. To assimilate Redon, Schiele, Kahlo, Van Gogh and Kokoschka all at once must have been an exhilarating experience for Zhang, but was in its way almost as unsettling as the foregoing revolution. He withdrew into a long period of introspection, during which he produced paintings suffused with surrealist imagery and Buddha worship. It took another seismic shock, Tiananmen Square in 1989, to jolt Zhang out of his inward-looking mood. ‘Because of what happened, I was pulled back into reality, awakened from my dreams,’ he said.
Zhang then began to paint the pictures that are his most distinctive works. First, a series of expressionist canvases filled with ghosts and snakes and severed heads; then, after a trip to Europe in 1992, came the many group portraits of figures in Maoist dress. The faces in these wonderful paintings are as still and smooth as Giorgio Morandi’s pots and vases, and almost as obsessively repetitive. The same porcellaneous visages occur again and again. Some of them are recognisably or explicitly portrayals of Zhang’s parents as young adults — that is, as the artist knew them when he was a small child, before the upheaval. The subjects’ expressions have the vacuity of identity-card mugshots, but this blankness is transmuted by Zhang’s brush into something beautiful and serene. It is hard to imagine these figures speaking, let alone laughing: they are as solemn and silent as Orthodox saints.
The people in the portraits don’t give anything away, but other elements of the compositions do. The alarming red babies, Zhang has said, are a symbol of the Communist Republic. More enigmatic are the differently coloured patches that appear on every face. They could be seen in various ways: as fragments of a mask, or as undisclosed thoughts passing like clouds through the sitters’ minds. However they are understood, these migrainous blots point to an inner life, to the private world that the regime had sought to extirpate.
Then there are the red filaments that bind the individuals together, snaking in and out of ears, emerging from ribcages, looping around the lapels of buttoned-up jackets. These fils rouges hint at the shared memories of family and, by extension, the nation — along with all the unhappy trauma that entails. In later works, the red thread reappears in concrete form as an electric flex, which is invariably connected to a hanging light bulb. This is Zhang’s most insistent and assertive leitmotif. It is unrelated to the brightly burning bulb that serves as a cipher for inspiration in Western cartoons and comic strips.
In Zhang’s world, the bulb is a wan and melancholy thing, not a source of light but a blind cul-de-sac in the larger electrical circuitry. The artist has said that he one day realised, in a moment of psychological insight, that the recurrent light bulbs represent his father – but there must be more to them than that. They seem more Jungian than Freudian: the lamp’s dark cord meanders across the canvas and plugs into the grid somewhere out of sight. It feels like an image of the individual’s connection to the collective unconscious, a shared well of experience and knowledge that is broader and deeper even than China’s ancient culture and turbulent 20th century.
While red is the banner colour of communism, muddy green is the authentic hue of communal living. A generation ago, you would have encountered this shade of green — which lies between pond algae and army fatigues – along the corridors of public buildings in every town from Karl-Marx-Stadt to Ho Chi Minh City. In China, it was ubiquitous in apartments too, just as the artist shows it. But Zhang somehow suffuses these paintings of paint with a palpable nostalgia, and contrives to make the colour beautiful on the canvas when it was only ever drab on the wall. This is the transformational effect of memory on his art.
‘Sometimes remembrance feels more like questioning,’ he has said, and all the pictures that depict tableaux and snapshots from Zhang’s own remembered past are a kind of antidote to state-written history, its distortions and lies. This makes his work politically subversive even though — or rather precisely because — most of it is profoundly personal. It follows that the apparently optimistic and baggage-free motifs, such as the fragrant plum-tree branches that Chinese people like to bring into their homes in winter, are as loaded with significance as the sinister loudspeakers on tall poles, or the pillowcases printed with retrospectively ironic slogans: ‘Love Your Homeland’ or ‘Glory To Labour’. It is all part of the same protest, the same sense of mourning for lives warped by ideology inside a violently misguided country.
Boris Pasternak, who lived through Stalin’s attempt to annex the psyche of every Soviet citizen, later wrote that ‘it is always a sign of mediocrity in people when they flock together; only individuals seek the truth’. Zhang Xiaogang would surely know exactly what the poet meant, and why he had to say it.