Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.

Posts Tagged ‘Christies’

Indian art market hits peak 2008 figures – modern art favoured

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


ART MARKET INDIAN ART MODERN ART AUCTIONS

For some time now, the Indian art market has been reviving after the post-2008 buying slump. New Delhi-based journalist John Elliott, who runs the current affairs blog Riding the Elephant, reports in a recent post that now it may well be on the first step towards similar pre-2008 peak figures. However, the artists raking in money this time around are not contemporary but modern Indian artists.

In June this year, Sotheby’s raised USD7.9m in a mostly Indian art sales. In the same month, Saffronart sold art worth USD6.7m, and together with a Christie’s two day sale of USD18.1m, Indian art sales for the month of June totaled a substantial USD32.7m.

Rabindranath Tagore. Portrait of a woman.

Rabindranath Tagore's 'Portrait of a Woman' sold for over USD461,000 at Sotheby's.

Elliott reports that ArtTactic, a London based art market analysis firm believes that average auction prices and volumes for modern Indian art are now back to levels seen at the market’s peak in June 2008. Anders Peterson, who runs the firm, adds that,

The return in the confidence for the Indian art market is at the high end of the market.

A significant change from the trends of 2008 is the consistent sales of established veteran artists of Indian modern art rather than contemporary artists. However, given the overall push in the performance of the market, contemporary sales have also picked up. ArtTactic reports that previously popular contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat are still lagging far below 2007-2008 prices.

Saffronart founder and owner Dinesh Vazirani agrees with ArtTactic’s line on modern art. He says,

Auction prices are reasonably close to their 2008 peak. Serious collectors are there and this is backed with confidence in the Indian economy and with people investing as a hedge against inflation.

But how much do these results tell us about trends in buying Indian art? Anders Peterson from ArtTactic believes that,

Auctions are now a filtered version of the reality in the art market. Lots that are likely to sell are works of high quality, rarity and outstanding provenance. Works that do not demonstrate these qualities are still selling at lower prices or not at all. Therefore the return in confidence is at the high end of the market.

SH Raza. Rajasthan.

SH Raza's 'Rajasthan'.

The highlight of the Sotheby‘s sale were the works of Indian modernist painter, poet, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, while Saffronart relied on modern art veterans like S.H. Raza, who was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and now lives in Paris. His wife, Janine Mongillat, died in April 2002.

AM/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Indian art, Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, market watch- auctions

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Classic/Contemporary, Collectors, Indian, London, Market watch, Painting, Progressive Artists' Group | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Hong Kong hailed as art’s Promised Land by Art+Auction Magazine

Posted by artradar on April 2, 2010


HONG KONG ART MARKET

Sanyu, Lotus et poissons rouges, 1955

The state of the arts in Hong Kong are strong and flourishing, earning Hong Kong the high praise of being touted as Asia’s arts ‘promised land’ by Art +Auction Magazine in the March 2010 issue.

The article entitled ‘Promised Land’ describes the active art market in the city, which has recently expanded financially and creatively.

David Spalding writes for Art +Auction that:

‘Hong Kong is rising as a major art center, thanks to its thriving auction market and rapidly growing contemporary-art scene.’

‘The Hong Kong art scene has evolved rapidly, overcoming its regional myopia to become a key continentwide player and gaining prominence within the local cultural landscape.’

Auction Market

Hong Kong achieved the distinction as the 3rd largest auction market in the world in 2007, after the U.S. and U.K, and has maintained this positioning through 2009. A March 2010 article in The Economist titled How China Bucked the Trend: What Really Happened in 2009, states:

In 2009, when the global art market shrunk by more than a third to $43.5 billion, compared with $63.9 billion at its peak two years earlier, the Chinese art market bucked the trend. Sales in mainland China and Hong Kong reached a record high of $5.5 billion, up from $5 billion in 2008, boosting China’s share of the world art market that year to 14%, its highest share ever.

Indeed money freely flowed at Hong Kong’s various art auctions in late 2009, which set records and continually surpassed expectations. The following Fall 2009 Hong Kong auctions caught the attention of art world:

Zeng Fanzhi’s Untitled (Hospital Series), 1994

Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s October 6th sale of 20th-Century Chinese Art was estimated to generate $10.4 million USD in sales, but instead produced an impressive $14 million USD. This successful sale included Sanyu’s Lotus et poissons rouges, 1955,  which sold for $4.7 million, 31% higher than its greatest estimated price.  This is the artist’s 2nd highest auction price to date, and solely accounted for a third of the show’s total revenue.

The Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings sale yielded $6.4 million, more than double its estimated yield and 76% more than the spring sale in this category.

The sale’s standout work was Indonesian painter Lee Man Fong’s Magnificent Horses, 1966, which was estimated to sell for approximately $200,000–$320,000 USD, but raked in an artist-record of $1 million USD.

Christie’s

Christie’s also experienced successful sales in November that produced $213 million USD over 5 days. A reported 47% of the buyers of contemporary Asian works were from mainland China, and favored pieces by more-established artists.

In the November 29th sale of Asian Contemporary Art and Chinese 20th-Century Art, Zeng Fanzhi’s Untitled (Hospital Series), 1994, surpassed its expected high of $1.5 million to attain $2.5 million. The November 30th Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary sale featured Indonesian painter I Nyoman Masriadi’s Master Yoga, 2009, which also exceeded its high estimate of $130,000 to realize $467,102.

Socially active gallery scene, international flavor

Hong Kong has also earned the designation as Asia’s visual contemporary arts ‘promised land’ due to its vibrant and growing gallery scene, which features fine art not only from Asia, but the entire world. In addition, many of these socially responsible Hong Kong galleries have taken it as their mission to connect to and nurture the larger creative community. Hong Kong’s 10th annual ArtWalk, which was held on March 17th,  included 62 participating galleries that opened their doors to the public for this charity event that supported Hong Kong’s Society for Community Organization (SoCo).

Notable galleries featuring Asian artworks include:

Hanart TZ, founded in 1983 by the local critic and curator Johnson Chang Tsong-zung, has helped bring international exposure to mainland Chinese artists throughout the 1990s. This work has continued most recently with a solo exhibition of new paintings and mixed-media work by the young Fo Tan artist Lam Tung-pang (who is also represented in a concurrent group show at the Hong Kong Museum of Art through April 25).

The Osage Gallery focuses on East and Southeast Asian art, while 10 Chancery Lane Gallery holds exhibitions of Vietnamese and Cambodian contemporary art. The Thai gallery Tang Contemporary Art — which has become significant here since opening a space on Hollywood Road in 2008 — offers an eclectic mix. The artists represented in its booth at last year’s Hong Kong art fair included the Thai-Indian Navin Rawanchaikul, the Beijing-based Yan Lei and longtime Paris resident Wang Du.

Western art represented in Asia

There is also a growing local Hong Kong market for Western art, and numerous galleries have risen to meet this need.

The London gallery Ben Brown Fine Arts opened a Hong Kong space last November showing works by leading Western artists Gerhard RichterThomas Ruff and Jeff Wall, alongside those of established Asian artists like the Japanese Yayoi Kusama and the Calcutta-born, Brooklyn-based Rina Banerjee.

The Schoeni Art Gallery, which opened in 1993 with an exhibition of works by Chinese, Russian and Swiss artists, is boldly mixing things up, with the 2008 launch of Adapta, a collaboration with the U.K.-based Web magazine UKAdapta on projects involving urban and  graffiti artists like Banksy.

Additional galleries facilitating the introduction of Western art to Asia include: the Cat Street Gallery, Art Statements, and the Fabrik Gallery.

EW/KCE

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Posted in Art spaces, Auctions, Business of art, Galleries, Gallerists/dealers, Globalisation, Hong Kong, Market watch, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surprising sell-through rates for Chinese art recorded in London’s February auctions

Posted by artradar on March 28, 2010


CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART MARKET

Chinese Contemporary Art Lots Sell Out in London

Major auctions held in February 2010 in London featured impressive sales of Chinese contemporary art works reports Jing Daily with surprisingly high sell-through rates compared with works from other markets. The rising presence of Chinese collectors and bidders underpins the phenomenal performance in sales and the momentum is expected to continue claims the newspaper.

Ian McGinlay, Head of Client Development for Asia at Sotheby’s, expects mainland Chinese collectors to become increasingly ubiquitous — and forceful — at auctions of contemporary art, with these buyers going for works by “blue-chip” Chinese artists like Cai Guo-Qiang, Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi and others.

Look for work by Wang Guangyi at upcoming Sotheby's auctions

As Jing Daily reports, the overall sell-through rate of the four auctions held by the three auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury — 90.5% (19/21) — was well above the overall performance of the entire aggregated sales.

At Sotheby’s, 100% of Chinese works (9/9) sold; at Christie’s, 82% (7/9); at Phillips, 100% sold (3/3).

For more of the original coverage, Jing Daily has more.

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Posted in Auctions, Chinese, London, Market watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is street art? Top 5 street artists in the art world- Part II

Posted by artradar on March 10, 2010


STREET ART CULTURE

As street art goes mainstream in Asia, Art Radar takes a look at its roots.

Modern graffiti art originated as an underworld activity and coincided with the hip hop movement in the late 1960’s and early 70’s in New York City [Associated Content], but many artists who started as ‘taggers’ have been recognized by the art world and achieved commercial success. This post will provide an outline of the humble beginnings of street art culture and the artists who have emerged from this culture and into the international art scene.

The common unsanctioned art visible in urban areas is the work of graffiti ‘writers’, who compete for recognition and respect (‘fame’) by having the most pervasive street art in a community. Each artist has his or her own graffiti name (‘tag’), which is creatively written as a signature or autograph and repeated throughout an area. Walls within an area that are sites for expressions of an artist’s or group’s dominance are known as ‘Walls of Fame.’

A strict hierarchy, visible through imagery

Although the graffiti art community may seem unstructured, it adheres to a strict hierarchy among its writers. The most visible or skilled artists are known as ‘kings’, and iconography of crowns within their work is a reference to the writer’s status. Lesser artists can only gain status by impressing a ‘king’.

Unfortunately, part of the reason these writers create graffiti is because it is illicit, and it helps the artist gain notoriety. Lady Pink, a socially conscious veteran street artist whose work is on display at The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Queens Museum of Art, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the Museum of the City of New York, says:

“You can’t give them a legal wall. They’re not interested. They’re more interested in the aspect of breaking the law, being vandals and being rebellious. They don’t have the skills for it or the desire to paint something in the daytime.” [Queens Tribune]

From street to chic

In past years street art has progressed beyond its gang related origins and is now appreciated among the highest contemporary art, with a matching price tag. Ralph Taylor of Sotheby’s, who has organized contemporary street art sales for auction in London, says:

“There is a natural progression from the young artists collected by Charles Saatchi in the 1990s to the street artists of today. People used to be looking for the next Damien Hirst; now they are after the next Banksy.” [Telegraph]

The artist Banksy, whose identity is kept secret for fear of the legal consequences for his art, is perhaps the best known street artist today. Banksy’s You Told That Joke Twice surpassed price estimates to sell for $266,000 at Christie’s on February 11, 2010, in a sale among pieces by Andy Warhol and Anish Kapoor. Another piece by Banksy, titled I Fought the Law is scheduled for auction at Christie’s on March 23, 2010, with an estimated price of $15,020-$22,530. Another two works by Banksy, titled Bomb Hugger and Armoured Car, sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale on February 11, 2010, selling for $88,396 and $73,976, respectively.

Works by the American graffiti artist Barry Mcgee, also known as ‘Ray Fong’ and ‘Twist’ (and variations of the word twist, including Twister and Twisty) have also frequented  the Christie’s auction, commanding prices up to $113,525.

Art Radar’s Top 5 Street Artists who have achieved success in the art world

Banksy – Possibly the best known street artist and an icon of the street art movement. He began his career creating street artworks in and around London, but has been legitimately accepted into the higher realms of the art world. He has been a regular at art auctions fetching high prices, and is presented with the most exclusive contemporary artists at gallery shows. Banksy will be on display in Hong Kong at Fabrick Contemporary Art in the company of artists Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Gilbert and George, in The Great British Show, running Feb 25- March 25, 2010.

Banksy’s Asian museum exhibition debut was the show ‘Love Art 08‘, which ran April 30-May 13, 2008 at the Hong Kong Art Center, and featured other contemporary and pop art heavy weights like Damien Hirst and Robert Indiana.

He has also recently completed a film titled Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is touted to be a ‘street art disaster movie’, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan 24, 2010.

Here you can view some works on display at the Bristol Museum’s Banksy Exhibition 2009.


Shepard Fairey–  Educated over 20 years ago at the Rhode Island School of Design, he began his career making guerilla street art in Los Angeles, but has since expanded his concept, which revolves around the image of Andre the Giant, into an entire product line branded  ‘OBEY’. Canvas artworks have also been developed from this iconography, including his Peace Goddess, which sold at Sotheby’s for $80,500 in the company of works by Banksy and Andy Warhol. His first museum exhibition, titled Supply and Demand, was at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, from Febuary 16-August 16, 2009, and included his iconic Obama Poster, which now hangs in the United State’s National Portrait Gallery.

See Shepard Fairey explain why he created the Obama Hope poster and his OBEY campaign here:


Adam Neate– This UK graffiti artist has been recognized by the London National Gallery, the Tate, and the London National Portrait Gallery. He has been shown by the Elms Lesters Gallery in London, and in 2007 his painting Suicide Bomber sold for £78,500 at Sotheby’s. On November 14, 2008, in an event The London Show, he and helpers left 1,000 prints, worth a total of £1 million, around London streets for anyone to pick up and keep. He says: “The whole concept of the free art thing was challenging the notion of art as a commodity and its worth in society. Now I’m taking that to another level, testing the viability of separating art from commerce.” [Skyarts]

Adam’s Neate’s Asian debut was at the Schoeni Gallery in Hong Kong on June 19-July 18, 2009.

See Adam Neate speak on his London Show:


Swoon, whose real name is Caledonia ‘Callie’ Currry, is a New York City street artist, and has been recognized by the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Art Basel Miami, MoMA, and the Brooklyn Museum.  She crashed the 2009 Venice Biennale with a 30-person ‘Swimming Cities’ performance project, titled The Clutches of Cuckoo. She and her ‘pirate’ crew sailed from Slovenia to dock off the Grand Canal of Certosa Island in a ship made of New York City garbage, to make an extraordinary entrance.

See Swoon speak on her works at the MoMA in a two part interview series:


Barry McGee, also known as Ray Fong, Twist, or Twisty, is a San Francisco, California based street artist and cult figure whose work was included in the Venice Biennale in 2001, and the 2009-2010 Biennale de Lyon, France. He has been exhibited at the Watari-um Museum in Tokyo, the 2008 Carnegie International, the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Maryland, and the BALTIC Centre in UK. His work has also sold at Christie’s, commanding high prices.

See some of his work in this interview video with Art 21 for PBS.

EW/KCE

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Posted in American, Business of art, Graffiti, Lists, Public art, Research, Street art, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A common man uncommonly direct – Indian contemporary sculptor Subodh Gupta in conversation in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on December 6, 2009


CONVERSATION SUBODH GUPTA INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

New Delhi-based contemporary artist Subodh Gupta is not backward in coming forward with his views. Smiling firmly, he chose not to respond to introductory remarks made by moderator William Pym, Managing Editor of Art Asia Pacific magazine at a talk hosted as a side-event of the Christie’s Hong Kong autumn 2009 auctions .

Instead he turned to face the audience: “Let me tell you all clearly why I am here today. Originally this was supposed to be a one-on-one talk with Art Asia Pacific. I was happy about that. But then it turned into a group talk hosted by Christies. I prefer to work with curators, writers and critics rather than auction houses”. Christie’s Hugo Weihe, International Director of Asian Art who was sitting in the front row looked slightly startled.

So Subodh Gupta is a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks….this talk was shaping up to be interesting.

Subodh Gupta

Subodh Gupta

Moving attention swiftly to the art, Pym invited Gupta to discuss a series of slides of his works many of which were featured in his Hauser and Wirth solo show “Common Man” which ended October 2009.

Subodh Gupta, A Penny for Belief II

One set of works comprised three over-sized thalis (thali is a Hindi word meaning plate on which a series of small bowls of food are placed) each featuring its own grouping of like items: used sandals, kitchen utensils and coins in oil.
Gupta explained that a primary source of inspiration is what he sees and has seen in his everyday environment, the objects which surround him. His trademark references to Indian kitchen utensils reference his earliest experiences:

He was born (one of six children) in the northeastern state of Bihar, which he describes as the Wild West of India. His father, a railway guard, was a drinker and died in his early forties, when Gupta was 12. His mother, who came from a farming family, sent him off to live with her brother for a few years in a remote village — “Not a single school kid wore shoes, and there is no road to go to school. Sometimes we stop in the field and we sit down and eat green chickpea before we go to school. (Times)

Today however Gupta sporting international urban grunge-style clothing complete with goatee, only haltingly accepted the  proposal suggested by Pym that he might be a cultural ambassador for India, someone who plays a role in teaching the world about his native country. “My inspiration comes from everyday life. Yes I suppose you can say I am an ambassador but only by chance because I am from India. Every artist reflects their own cultural environment. Nowadays I live in the world, I see more of the world. My art expresses that.”

The assemblage of local and global influences is evident in Penny for Belief II in which a large thali is filled with oil and coins. He explained that his globe-trotting lifestyle led him to notice that many cultures share behaviourse for expample the belief in the value of throwing coins for blessings. Local rites have underlying universal themes.  “In the United Kingdom, China and India, they throw coins into different things: oil, water and empty pots. But they all believe in throwing coins”.

Observant pattern-seeking Gupta is an artist who believes that art is a conceptual endeavour. Ever direct, he looked straight at the audience as he said: “If you still believe  that artists today make art themselves, you are romanticising.   My job as an artist is to think, conceive the ideas. My art is made up for me by expert artisans all over the world, the thali works were made in America. The Jeff Koons boxes were cast in Zurich.”

After leaving school, Gupta joined a small theatre group in Khagaul and worked as an actor for five years. This has informed his view of his role as an artist. “As an artist I have to adapt myself to the subject of my art. An artist is like an actor, he also has to adapt himself”.

Gupta clearly relishes art-making as a participatory and flexible endeavour and  he is comfortable allowing viewers of his work to join in too. He explained that he let visitors throw their own coins into his thali artwork. “Didn’t the guards at the Hauser and Wirth gallery stop people from doing that, they are usually very protective of the art” asked Pym looking surprised. “No we told the guards to let visitors throw their own coins. It is part of the art and, you know what, we had coins from all over the world”.

Subodh Gupta, I Believe You

Subodh Gupta, I Believe You

Despite his willingness to farm out the manual process of art-making, Gupta’s has a deep respect for labour and hard toil. He described how the sandals in “I Believe You” were sourced: “I noticed that  the labourers in India wear sandals and each bears the mark, the footprint of its owner. Unique marks, like fingerprints. I bought some new sandals and swapped them for the workers’ used slippers. They symbolise these people in India – and of course all over the world – who work day to day for their bread and butter. These hard-working honest labourers. In this piece I am saying: I honour you, worship you, believe you. It is almost like a prayer. Thalis have associations not only with food but also with prayer.”

Subodh Gupta

Labourers and travel remained the focus of the conversation as it turned to slides of his renowned luggage trolley series which included one of Subodh Gupta’s sculpture of a gilded bronze luggage trolley and three pieces of aluminium luggage called Vehicle for the Seven Seas (2004). According to Artcurial, this work posted an auction record price for the Indian artist when it fetched €502,330 ($785,243), more than triple its €140,000-180,000 estimate, under the gavel on April 3 2008.

Though he must have recounted the story behind this series many times before, Gupta’s explanation was engaging and articulate. “I had not travelled outside India until 1993. After that I often flew between Europe and India and because I bought cheap tickets, there was usually a stopover in Dubai or Kuwait. I noticed that on the return journey to India the plane was often empty for the first leg of the journey and then in the Middle East stopover the plane was filled with Indians, my people, migrant workers from India.”

He noticed that they had a particular and unique way of wrapping up their belongings for the journey. He became more and more intrigued by these packages and pieces of luggage which were so tightly and securely wrapped. ” I began to get talking to the passengers who were tailors and taxi drivers and construction labourers … I asked them what was inside. It turned out that the contents were quite ordinary, their everyday belongings plus a few clothes for their children, perhaps a little jewellery for their wives. But these parcels seemed to me to be themselves like jewellery and so I started working on them”.

Wrappings as a source of inspiration and of value in their own right is a motif which recurs in his work. In his ‘Jeff the Koons’ installation, Gupta has cast in aluminum copies of the cardboard boxes that Koons’ mailorder ‘Puppy’ sculptures come in.

Subodh Gupta, Jeff The Koons, installation Hauser and Wirth

Subodh Gupta, Jeff The Koons, installation Hauser and Wirth

In this work, Gupta shows us his playful side. Packaging materials rather than the contents become the focus of attention, the new and greater source of interest. And Gupta is not afraid to have a little fun, be a little cheeky: he distracts us and leads our attention away from the art (even though this art is made by world-famous artist Jeff Koons) and towards the packaging of it as if it were just as or more important. But Gupta’s irony is only employed with permission. “I first saw the boxes in Saint Tropez. When I was told that they were the boxes in which Koons’ sculptures had travelled there I was inspired. I wanted to cast them. I was told that maybe Jeff Koons would sue me unless I asked permission. So I waited 3 years until mutual friends finally introduced us and Koons gave me permission.”

“Jeff the Koons” is a work reminiscent of Warhol’s pivotal 1964 work Brillo Boxes too. These days Gupta likes to riff on iconic Western artworks. This has earned him well-worn monikers such as the “Damien Hirst of Delhi” and “Marcel Duchamp of the Subcontinent”.  What does he think of these tags wondered Pym. “These titles seem to follow you from one press article to another. How do you feel about that?” “Well I find that it is usually the journalists who know the least about art who like to use them. I like Damien Hirst as an artist but I don’t see myself as him. Anyway what is written about me is not in my control. I just make art”

The son of a railway guard who arrived penniless in Delhi in 1988, Gupta who produced conventional canvases for many years before making sculpture,  has clearly come a long way. Now Gupta’s everyday, his immediate sphere, his source of inspiration is no longer a rural world of steel buckets and tiffin boxes. Instead his environment is one of international travel, world-class art and well-deserved prominence.

Yet despite all this, Subodh Gupta is a man who remembers and honours the “common man”. Pym recounted how Gupta’s bronze sculpture of hand-painted mangos Aam Aadmi was his mother’s favourite work in the show. Gupta laughed. “I am glad about that because it is my favourite work too. I named the show after this work. Aam is a reference to mango fruit and to the common man. It is the King of Fruit in India. It is grown everywhere unlike other fruit so everyone can eat mango.”

Subodh Gupta Aam Aadmi

Subodh Gupta, Aam Aadmi, 2009

Although he can be disconcertingly direct, sometimes to the point of being dismissive, it is hard not to like Subodh Gupta for his integrity, his humility and his fearlessness. Gupta may not be happy with Christie’s but the audience was thrilled by their up-close encounter with this complex engaging artist which Christie’s helped to host and promote.

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Posted in China, Collaborative, Conceptual, Hong Kong, Indian, Interviews, Journey art, Large art, Migration, Participatory, Subodh Gupta | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is Singapore threatening Hong Kong as next Asian art mecca? Wall Street Journal

Posted by artradar on November 17, 2009


SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG’S COMPETING ART MARKET

Singapore’s art scene has grown rapidly since its 1989 government mandate to recognize the “importance of culture and the art.” Thriving to a point that, according to The Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong–Asia’s epicenter of art–is beginning to take its competitor seriously.

Hong Kong’s challenging art scene

Today’s numbers would suggest that Hong Kong has nothing to worry about for competition.  Hong Kong is currently the third-largest auction market in the world with both Christie’s and Sotheby’s in its territory, and has set aside close to US$3 billion in order to create a much needed world class arts and culture development known as West Kowloon Cultural District. The project, however, has been slow to start and left many frustrated.

“The Hong Kong government first hit upon the idea in 1998 of building an integrated arts and culture neighborhood on 40 hectares of reclaimed land in the West Kowloon district. After many fits and starts, planning for the project recently picked up some momentum…Nevertheless, even if it all goes as planned, the first phase won’t be open until 2016.”

West Kowloon

One of the proposed models for the West Kowoon Cultural Centre

The West Kowloon project has been “frustrating and painful,” says Asia Art Archive’s Ms. Hsu, who is also on the advisory panel for the museum at the new West Kowloon development. “For the public it has looked like the government is stalling, but it gives me a lot of hope. The government is very concerned about getting it right.’”

Singapore makes its move

The time spent behind making Hong Kong’s “necessary cultural move” may eventually result in Singapore gaining ground in the market by the country’s pushing ahead with so many art-hub projects of their own.

“It [Singapore] invested more than US$1 billion in infrastructure, including several museums and a 4,000-seat complex of theaters, studios and concert halls called the Esplanade, which opened in 2002, and spiced up its arts programming with diversity and a regional flavor.”

singapore esplanade

The Esplanade, Singapore

The benefits of Singapore’s art initiatives are already apparent. According to Singapore’s National Arts Council “between 1997 and 2007, the ‘vibrancy’ of the local art scene, measured by the number of performances and exhibition days, quadruped to more than 26,000.”

However, Singapore is still missing a key ingredient to perhaps prosper further: a big art-auction market like Hong Kong’s.

“Some smaller art-auction houses hold sales in Singapore, but the big ones — Christie’s and Sotheby’s — have pulled out and moved their Southeast Asian art auctions to Hong Kong, the former British colony that is home to seven million people and became a Chinese territory in 1997.”

For a city, having the ingredients for a thriving art market creates a virtuous circle. The powerful marketing machines of the big auction houses, including public previews of coming sales, raises awareness and appreciation of art in the community. All this encourages local artists to create more art. And that momentum, in turn, contributes to the development of a city’s broader cultural scene, including music, theater and design.”

Singapore looks ahead

The relationship between big art-auction markets and a thriving art scene can be so entangled that it would appear difficult to navigate a new course in order to adequately compete. Singapore, it seems, is trying anyways.

“Undaunted, Singapore is diligently pushing ahead and has opened several museums and other arts venues while Hong Kong has dithered on the construction of West Kowloon. Christie’s also recently picked Singapore to be the site of a global fine-arts storage facility to open in a duty-free zone in January.”

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Posted in Advisors, Auctions, Biennials, Business of art, China, Chinese, Collectors, Fairs, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Market watch, Shanghai, Singapore, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Contemporary art market in Asia now bigger than US for first time says Artprice

Posted by artradar on November 11, 2009


ASIAN ART MARKET

Visitors enter a Sotheby's auction room in Hong Kong on October 6, 2008 of modern and contemporary art. MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images

Visitors enter a Sotheby's auction room in Hong Kong for a sale of modern and contemporary art on October 6, 2008.

For the first time ever, the total auction revenue from “contemporary art in Asia” is greater than the total of the United States artprice reports. The statistics are collected from a 12-month period spanning from July 2008 to June 2009. Asia generated €130 million versus the United States’ €123 million. China is the highest gainer out of this trend, having generated €95 million from contemporary art during the same period.  According to the report, this means China is continuing to “hold on to its third place global geographical art auction revenue ranking.”

The establishment of foreign auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams in Hong Kong, in combination with the financial strength of Hong Kong and Shanghai are to be accredited for China’s position. For those who are looking to begin collecting Asian art, this does not mean that the price of contemporary Chinese art is back up to its sky-high prices of a couple of years ago. Artprice’s report tell us that in the first half of 2008 the average price of contemporary works sold in China was $65,500, however, in the first half of 2009, this average dropped to $26,800.

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Posted in Asia expands, Auctions, Business of art, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Market watch, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Art in storage, at fairs and sales – is it getting harder to insure?

Posted by artradar on October 28, 2009


ART FAIR INSURANCE

Last week, The Art Newspaper posted an interesting report that claimed that art is getting harder to insure. According to their source, Richard Northcott, executive director of the art, jewellery and private client division at Heath Lambert Group (London), firms that protect specialist fine art insurers are becoming cautious of insuring a large amount of art kept in one place at the same time, such as in storage warehouses and exhibitions. The article explains why:

“For a long time nobody in the insurance world was monitoring the cumulative value of art shown at fairs or kept in storage,” explains Northcott. “But in the last two or three years the industry has become a lot more sophisticated and a lot more aware of the issue.”

This is partly owing to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which made insurers aware that a single catastrophe could wipe out an entire art fair or storage facility, and partly owing to recent developments in software that have made it much easier for re-insurers and specialist fine art insurers to track the location of the thousands of policies they have underwritten at any one time.

At Art 40 Basel in June, “there were already murmurs of a problem”, Northcott says.
At Art 40 Basel in June, “there were already murmurs of a problem,” Northcott says.

“There is a limit to the insurance market’s capacity for the cumulative value of policies for a single event like an art fair,” says Northcott. This stands at around $2bn; the insurance value of art at Frieze this year is much lower as the downturn in the contemporary market has led to declining prices, and the many younger galleries exhibiting for the first time are offering less expensive, emerging artists. But he believes that as the art market recovers, “all major art fairs will come under scrutiny by the industry”.

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Posted in Art insurance, Business of art, Fairs, Services | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Top price for Oliver Stone’s Zhang Xiaogang, half lots unsold at Christies Hong Kong sale – Bloomberg

Posted by artradar on December 1, 2008


Zhang Xiaogang

Zhang Xiaogang

ASIAN ART AUCTIONS

A painting by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang offered by Hollywood director Oliver Stone fetched HK$26.4 million ($3.4 million) at a Hong Kong art sale where half the lots were unsold, reflecting the prevailing gloom.

Zhang’s “Bloodline: Big Family, No. 2,” from 1995, was the most-expensive lot sold at Christie’s International’s evening sale yesterday. There was less enthusiasm for most other lots: buyers shunned 44 percent of Asian contemporary works and more than half of 20th-century Chinese paintings for a sale that tallied HK$140.6 million.

“You could sense the caution; no one wants to make a rash move,” said Tian Kai, a Beijing-based art dealer who flew in to attend the sale. “It’s a sign of the times.”

Hong Kong’s art market remains in the throes of a slump it heralded in October when Sotheby’s auction in the city missed its target by half. Subsequent major auctions in New York, London and Dubai fell short of estimates, spelling an art-world rout sparked by the Sept. 15 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the ensuing global credit and stock-market crisis.

Zhang’s 1.8 meter-by-2.3 meter work shows a pursed-lipped couple with a tuft-haired toddler painted yellow. It went to an anonymous buyer after a 2-minute tussle between phone and salesroom bidders.

Last night’s sale was the most-glamorous part of Christie’s five-day Hong Kong auction (Nov. 29-Dec. 3) of 2,500 antiques, gems and art that the company expects to raise HK$1.75 billion. At least 500 people, some decked in their evening best of chiffon, silks and gems, packed the standing-room-only auction- hall at the Exhibition Center which overlooks the harbor.

‘Price Readjustment’

“Overall, there’s clearly been a price readjustment,” said Jonathan Stone, Christie’s Hong Kong-based international business director, in an interview after the sale. Stone, not related to Oliver, said the company is pleased that it set several artist records at the sale, “economic circumstances notwithstanding.”

Artist record for Zao Wou-ki

“Hommage a Tou-Fou,” a painting by China-born, Paris-based Zao Wou-ki sold for an artist record of HK$45.5 million. Chinese artist Sanyu’s “Potted Chrysanthemums” fetched HK$8.4 million, against the presale top forecast of HK$5 million.

Biggest upset Zeng Fanzhi’s Mao

Last evening’s biggest upset was a 1993 painting of Mao Zedong by China’s most-expensive contemporary artist Zeng Fanzhi, which failed to sell against a presale estimate of HK$30 million.

Bidding on Zeng’s oil-on-canvas “Mao I: From the Masses, to the Masses” was labored, even with auctioneer Andrea Fiuczynskic’s effort at coaxing more bids. The last offer of HK$28 million wasn’t good enough for Fiuczynskic, who rapped the gavel and called in the lot.

“Mao I,” is the twin of a like-sized painting “Chairman Mao II,” also dated 1993, that fetched 2.17 million pounds ($3.3 million) at Phillips de Pury & Co.’s London auction on June 29.

Other Oliver Stone owned works sold at near low estimates

Oliver Stone had consigned five Chinese contemporary paintings at this sale, three of which featured at last night’s event. The other two, both Liu Weis, sold for a combined HK$7.5 million, near the low end of estimates. Two last paintings will be offered at Christie’s day sale this afternoon.

“These are challenging times,” said Tian. “Both sellers and buyers are trying to make the best of a difficult situation.”

Southeast Asian art prices eased

Demand for Southeast Asian art, whose prices defied the demand weakness at Sotheby’s October auction, eased at this sale.

A mixed-media painting by the region’s most-expensive painter I Nyoman Masriadi fetched HK$2.1 million, against the work’s top estimate of HK$1.6 million. The priciest lot sold at the Southeast Asian auction was Filipina Juan Luna’s “Roman Maidens,” which fetched HK$4.7 million, against the painting’s low estimate of HK$8 million.

Except for wines, Christie’s charges buyers 25 percent on the first HK$400,000 of the hammer price, 20 percent of the amount above that, up to and including HK$8 million, and 12 percent of subsequent sums.

Posted in Auctions, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, I Nyoman Masriadi, Indonesian, Market watch, Pop Art, Zeng Fanzhi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Takashi Murakami on why the War helped create Japanese pop culture

Posted by artradar on December 1, 2008


Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

 

 

 

 

 

JAPANESE ART LECTURE HONG KONG

On November 28 2008 world-renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami gave a lecture organised by Christie’s as an ancillary event appended to their November sales in Hong Kong. He is the only visual artist in Time’s 2008 list of the 100 most influential people in art.

Single greatest catalyst for explosion of interest in art

In the introduction to the lecture by Edward Dolman CEO of Christie’s, Dolman thanked Takashi Murakami for being the ‘single greatest catalyst’ for the ‘explosion of interest’ in the art world in the last ten years. He explained that twenty years ago art was sold to just ‘a few very privileged communities’ but today art and design have become part of the popular culture and Takashi Murakami has played a ‘huge’ part in bringing art to the people and making it accessible for them.

Murakami’s recession concerns

Murakami opened with the some comments on the current financial recession expressing concern for the market and the 130 sculptors, artists and animators employed by his Kaikai Kiki company. In all 400 peple are connected to the organisation. But he stressed these circumstances are normal to him as an artist implying that the marketing of art is always a challenge.

Murakami identifies himself as ‘otaku’

The substance of the lecture was about the main movements in Japanese popular culture principally ‘otaku’, a culture of young men isolated from mainstream society who are unmarried and often live at home spending hours on video games. Murakami clearly wants to be identified with the group mentioning a couple of times during the lecture that ‘I myself am unmarried’. It is difficult to know whether this is the disingenuous ploy of a marketing genius however he did seem at pains to explain the movement which he tried to communicate with words, images and one and a half minute videos. But in repeated asides to his audience ‘you probably won’t understand this’ there was a subtext of futility. 

Malaise in Japanese society

The sense of not being understood which pervaded the lecture prompted a question from the audience at the end: “How important is it to you that people who see your work understand your culture?” This triggered more explanations delivered with some passion. “Japanese people cannot identify themselves as Japanese so they share the ‘otaku’ culture as an alternative. To be part of community is a fundamental human need. Japanese society is now peaceful and noone is starving. Noone needs to worry about what to eat the next day but there is still a malaise, it is difficult to find satisfaction.”

So ‘Otaku’ is about filling that hole.

Otaku is like a drug

A breathy young woman said she had noticed that were lots of women in the animation asked if there was a link between this phenomenon and why  ‘otaku’ men remained unmarried and whether Murakami himself planned to stay unmarried. The translator deftly ignored the latter question. Murakami explained that the life of an ‘otaku’ male is like the life of a drug addict. Hours are spent on video games to get a dopamine like high but they need to spend more and more hours to get the same kick, like ‘hard-core junkies’. ‘Otaku’ guys find it difficult to communicate with girls, they are hard to approach.

Otaku idols

The tendency to idolatry expressed by ‘otaku’ followers was not explicitly stated by Murakami but came across strongly in the videos. Women are portrayed as inaccessible over-feminine superheroines with magical powers, flat and unreal. Oh Murakami mentioned here, in an interesting aside, that ‘otaku’ men don’t like computer-generated animation, they like their women drawn by hand. Is this as close to the physical as they can comfortably get?

But it is not just women who are idolised….the behaviour spans the genders. We were shown a curious, almost alarming  video – but then we had been warned that we probably wouldn’t understand – in which a group of guys surrounded one young man on a small stand whose dancing they were imitating. The dance disintegrated into what seemed to be genufluctions and adulation. There were no women; the men were awkward and, to use Murakami’s word, ‘uncool’.

Otaku has roots in defeat of Japan in World War II

So where does this intriguing culture of geeky rites, addictions and fantasy characters come from? Murakami has a surprising theory. He believes that the defeat of the Japanese in World War II led to a rejection of the Japanese identity, a turning away from Japanese culture. “Winning countries were able to maintain their culture but we had to break the link with our past, we had to create something completely new”. That the War is even offered as an explanation of a movement which arose 50 years after the event is startling. National shame is still an issue for Murakami and, so he claims, for all of Japan. This is an interesting theory but not altogether convincing: after all why is ‘otaku’ and Japanese culture becoming such a popular export to the rest of the world including the World War II winners?

What will we see next from Japan and otaku?

And what can the rest of the world expect to see as the next export? Well some of the ‘otaku’ fads Murakami mentions are ‘itasha’ (car sticker art) and ‘itansha’ (bicycle and motorbike art). ‘Otaku’ males who are unmarried have plenty of spare money and they spend it on the latest ‘otaku’ fad. Giant car stickers of cartoon cute manga and video game heroines adorn vehicles. There are ‘otaku’ spots with shops dedicated to ‘otaku’ gear.

‘Otaku’ girls are developing their own culture in which they experience unreal love for male fantasy characters which they express by dressing up as the object of their desire. In the female version of the ‘otaku’ culture, again alarmingly but we won’t go into that further here, there are elements of masochism and pain.

Art is a bloodless revolution for Murakami

So what is art to do in this culture? How is art responding? These questions haunt Murakami who says they have made him question the purpose of art. He keeps a sticker on the wall of his office setting out defintions of art. In sum he says  “Art is a bloodless revolution – that is the most important thing for me”.

So war, blood and fighting are never far from Murakam’s mind it seems. He showed us another video created by MR. a member of Kai Kai Ki Ki in which cute schoolgirl-aged females played with cuddly toys and then appeared dressed up as fantasy characters shooting eachother in survival games. “Japanese perceive war as unreal”, explained Murakami, “they play at war games they are just playing, war is just a sport. Japanese people don’t link war with death and pain.”

takashi-murakami-book

Click to buy Murakami book

Murakami embraces Japanese identity

While it is more of a stretch to accept Murakami’s self-proclaimed identity as an ‘otaku’ male – after all how can you spend hours playing video games alone in your bedroom if you run a multi-million dollar art factory – there can be no doubt that Murakami’s identity as Japanese is keenly felt. On more than one occasion he came to the defense of Japan. That the Japanese treat war as a fantasy game “is not good or bad” he says” it is just the situation”. In defense of criticism – raised by himself a propos of nothing obvious – that the Japanese do not donate to charities he says that the Japanese prefer to contribute their time not money.

Takashi Murakami is a complex man. Speaking quietly, he is articulate but, in true ‘otaku’ style, somewhat uncomfortable in himself-  at the beginning of the lecture to the organisers “I am sitting here, what do you want me to do”. Dressed in grungy artist clothes surrounded by Christie’s suits, speaking slickly and acting awkwardly: who is Takashi Murakami? Many things:  a businessman, an ‘otaku’ nerd, a Japanese national, an artist but most important of all he is a phenomenon who is having a profound influence on the course of global culture.

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Posted in Cartoon, China, Fantasy art, Hong Kong, Identity art, Japanese, Manga, Pop Art, Profiles, Recession, Takashi Murakami, Utopian art, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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