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Posts Tagged ‘Wang Keping’

Liquidity propels prices, Chinese Political Pop is back – Sothebys Contemporary Asian Art Auction 2009 Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on October 16, 2009


SOTHEBY’S AUCTIONS HONG KONG CONTEMPORARY ASIAN ART

Although called a Contemporary Asian Art auction, this sale was dominated by Chinese artists which was a canny move by Sotheby’s given that mainland liquidity is driving prices of property in Hong Kong to record high prices of US$1,000 per square foot and sending Chinese stock markets soaring. According to Bloomberg, Chinese money supply has grown by 55% since the beginning of 2007 compared with 20% in the UK and US.

Some of this liquidity has found its way into the art market at this auction. Mainland buyers were active and revealed some surprising preferences.

Hong Kong artists back in a second showcase

Sotheby’s followed up its inaugural and successful showcase of 8 Hong Kong artists in the ‘Spring auction earlier this year with an expanded selection of works by 10 artists. Affordable prices meant that all but two of the works found buyers with successful bids mostly coming in around estimates.

Simon Go, Hong Kong Old Shops, Inkjet on Bamboo Paper

Simon Go, Hong Kong Old Shops, Inkjet on Bamboo Paper

Works by two artists, sculptor Danny Lee and photographer Simon Go who were both new to the auction this year, did better than estimates. Danny Lee produces stainless steel sculptures which are reminiscent  – though in a more organic liquid form –  of the stainless steel scholar rocks made by the world-renowned sculptor Zhan Wang  whose works have been collected by institutions such as the British Museum . Danny Lee’s Mountain and Stream IV sold for HK$170,000 against a top estimate of HK$160,000 (before premium). (US$1 = HK$7.7)

Danny Lee, Mountain and Stream IV, Steel wood

Danny Lee, Mountain and Stream IV, Steel wood

Simon Go’s set of 2 photographic works called Hong Kong Old Shops: Wing Wo Grocery and Keng Ming Mirror Shop achieved a price of HK$80,000 against an estimate of HK$30-50,000 (before premium). This lot points to several collector trends. According to Larry Warsh, a New York-based dealer, there is a growing interest in Chinese photography and Wing Wo Grocery ( an image of a family clan in an old-style grocery shop from the colonial era recently shut down in preparation for urban renewal) embodies trends identified at an ArtInsight seminar last month called ‘Trends and Opportunities in Photography” . The panelists identified documentary photography and ‘slice of lif’e’ photography as hot areas for collectors now.

Zhan WangThe biggest story of the Hong Kong part of the sale was Tsang Tsou Choi’s calligraphy which saw excited bidding between several bidders in the room and on the phone resulting in a price (before premium) of HK$400,000 which was 8 times the lower estimate of HK$50,000. Work by this artist now deceased was also a surprising success in the Spring 2009 auction perhaps because of local media and public interest in the eccentric behaviour he displayed in his long art career.

Tsang Tsou Choi, Calligraphy, Acrylic on Canvas

Tsang Tsou Choi, Calligraphy, Acrylic on Canvas

In our Sotheby’s Spring 2009 auction post we wrote:

Tsang, Tsou Chin aka The Kowloon Emperor is a Hong Kong legend, famous for his calligraphy graffiti which he painted on public furniture. Undeterred by numerous warnings he roamed the streets for 50 years laying down his family genealogy and his personal history as an emperor in exile in blatant defiance of the Queen and English colonial rule. Deemed a lunatic by some, he was nevertheless recognised when in 2003 he became the very first Hong Kong artist to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Cynical Realist artists are back

In the next section of the sale a series of Chinese sixties-born artists, many from the Cynical Realist and Political Pop movements (Yue Minjun Feng Zhenghjie Zeng Fanzhi, Fang Lijun, Zhang Xiaogang) came under the hammer with hefty estimates of several hundred thousand and up to around $5 million per lot.

Yue Minjun, Hats Series - The Lovers, Oil on Canvas

Yue Minjun, Hats Series - The Lovers, Oil on Canvas

On a visit to London last month Art Radar heard several Western commentators describing Chinese art as ‘old’, ‘tired’ and ‘done’. This auction showed clearly that there are keen buyers for Chinese artists of this era who are willing to pay robust prices. Room bidders were mainly middle-aged Chinese men, who are perhaps collectors or more likely dealers for a growing middle class market in the mainland. Most lots in this section sold at estimate and some well above. Yue Minjun’s ‘Hats Series – The Lovers’ attracted several room bidders and a phone bidder eventually selling for HK$5.3m against a top estimate of HK$3.5m.

Institution-endorsed Chinese artists of the  fifties and sixties meet price resistance

Wang Keping, Untitled, Wood

Wang Keping, Untitled, Wood

It is no secret that Western critics regard some of the Cynical Realist artists as lightweight and lacking in intellectual rigour.  Instead major institutions such as the Royal Academy and British Museum in London have favoured and endorsed other mid-century born artists such as gunpowder artist Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing, famous for his invented calligraphy . These artists sold well at lower price levels but lots with high estimates met resistance and failed. Cai Guo-Qiang’s Money Net No 2, part of Royal Academy of Art Project (estimate HK$4.7m – 5.5m) and Xu Bing’s Silkwom Series – The Foolish Old Man Who Tried to Remove the Mountain (estimate HK$5m – 5.5m) were bought in.

Frowns for part-increment bids

What we did see at this auction was a much stronger resistance by the two auctioneers in this marathon four-and-a-half  hour sale to partial bids. In recent auctions we have seen bidders make counter-offer bids at increments lower than standard. In the recent past these were accepted with alacrity by genial auctioneers. At this auction bidders were left waiting, frowned at and as often as not turned down.

Zhang Huan upset

Zhang Huan, My New York, Chromogenic Print

Zhang Huan, My New York, Chromogenic Print

Zhang Huan

, formerly a performance artist and more recently a sculptor and installation artist known for his works in ash and animal skins had 5 lots in the sale. Despite  backing by big-boy galleries in London and New York (Zhang Huan currently has an installation at White Cube in Picadilly London) four of his works including two sculptures and two chromogenic prints were bought in. The only work which was successful was a chromogenic print (numbered 3/8) recording his early endurance performance art which sees him running barefoot along the streets covered in raw meat. This work exemplifies another trend identified at the Artinsight photography seminar: growing interest in photographic documentation of performance art.

Sculpture mixed

Sculpture had a mixed performance. Apart from Zhang Huan’s two failed lots and one by Hong Kong artist Kum Chi Keung, there was a surprise pass on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s pink polyester mannequin Self-Obliteration (estimate $550-650,000). Most of the rest of the ten or so sculptures including Wang Keping’s wooden female forms, Zhang Wan’s scholar rocks, kitsch sculptures by the Luo Brothers and Huang Yan and a run of five works featuring sculpted heads  and figures (by various artists) sold at or above estimate.

Li Hui, Amber Dragon, Neon and steel

Li Hui, Amber Dragon, Neon and steel

Two lots by neon and steel sculptor Li Hui (1977) were highly sought after and attracted across-the-room bidding. Both pieces were purchased by an Asian family who were active bidders in the preceding sale of South East Asian art. The family also acquired an acrylic on canvas by Japanese artist Hiroyuki Matsuura and another by Ryuki Yamamoto. Traditionally collectors’ interests cluster geographically and more often than not collectors prefer to buy their national artists though there have been signs of changes. Despite the recession there is still momentum  behind this trend of pan-Asia buying.

Chinese photography fluid bidding

A handful of photographs were scattered through the sale but the bulk was found in an eleven lot run in the middle.  This run featured sixties-born Chinese photographers such as Hai Bo, Hong Hao, Wang Qingsong, Huang Yan, Cang Xin and Sheng Qi who were active in the nineties and many of whom came to international prominence in 2004 with Christopher Phillips’ seminal exhibition Between Past and Future at the International Center of Photography in New York. Since then major US institutions have been collecting the work of this group as we reported in April 2009:

Hai Bo, Red Guard, Chromogenic Print and Gelatin Silver Print

Hai Bo, Red Guard, Chromogenic Print and Gelatin Silver Print

The J. Paul Getty Museum is the latest institution to add works by Chinese contemporary artists to its holdings. Others include New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which recently acquired 28 works for its photography collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as global institutions such as the Tate and the Pompidou Center.

“The acquisition of these works (Wang Qingsong, Hai Bo) affirms an important new direction for the Getty,” says noted photography dealer and collector Daniel Wolf, who helped establish the museum’s collection in the 1980s. “It reflects an interest in expanding the collection in this category.”

Prices were affordable and bidding was fluid. While editions were limited to the 8-20 range and many of the lots were made up of multiple images, sales were made at estimates which were surprisingly affordable. Most lots sold for between HK$40-75,000. Wang Qingsong’s triptych photograph Past Present, Future which sold at estimate for HK$260,000 was the exception.  One buyer snapped up several lots.

One upset was lot 765 by Cao Fei which was passed in. Her works are inspired by the internet, video games, role-playing and the virtual world and she has received wide coverage in London and beyond after a recent show at Battersea Power Station organised in conjunction with the Serpentine Gallery.

Japanese and Korean art

The sale was dominated by Chinese artists but there was a run of cartoon-style art, many by young Japanese artists, a third of the way through the sale which sold at prices HK$50-150,000. Heavyweight Japanese artists were priced much higher but did not always sell or meet the estimate.  Yoshimoto Nara’s It’s Everything sold at HK$3.3m compared with an estimate of HK$3.8-HK$5m. Work by Yoshitaka Amano (described by Time Out as ”the Japanese anime legend behind the Final Fantasy video game” and who attracted spirited phone bidding in the spring sale 2009) was passed in. Takashi Murakami was the exception achieving HK$520,000 for an untitled 1/50 edition screenprint carrying an estimate of just HK$50-70,000. Korean works also achieved mixed results.

Long long auction

The final run of 11 lots saw 6 passes despite affordable prices. This result is probably not worth analysing in depth as it likely had more to do with the numbing length of the 4-5 hour 2 auctioneer sale which saw a packed room of 200 or so dwindle away to 30 or 40 tired stalwarts at what felt like the dog-end of the sale. Perhaps Sotheby’s who charged for coffee and catalogues again this year is still in cost-slashing mode. Let’s hope that by next year there will be enough new money supply for a return to more coffee breaks and free coffee.

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Cai Guoqiang, Cao Fei, Cartoon, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Japanese, Korean, Li Hui, Market watch, Photography, Sculpture, Takashi Murakami, Xu Bing, Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitaka Amano, Yue Minjun, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Huan, Zhang Xiaogang | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sexual desire was capitalistic, prohibited says founding father of Chinese contemporary art Wang Keping

Posted by artradar on November 27, 2008


 

Untitled 29 1990 cherry 18cms

Untitled 29 1990 cherry 18cms

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHINESE ART MUSEUM SHOW REVIEW

Review of Wang Keping works 1979-2006 show at He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen China from 25 October 2008 to 23 November 2008.

On two floors of the little known He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen China, sculptor Wang Keping’s works stand dark and squat on white pedestals: bulging globular forms which seem to hang bauble-like in mid air. Ranging from table top-sized to several feet high, the works selected span the period from 1979 to 2006 and show how his oeuvre has evolved from his earlier ideologically-inspired creations to later works which reflect his preoccupation with nature and in particular the female form.

Like other Chinese sculptors, Wang Keping has developed his own instantly recognisable style. Gleaming burnished woods are formed into what seems to be tight piles of bulbs and irregular orbs. From a distance, framed by the rectangular white architectural pillars and beams of this intimate museum, the sculptures appear to be abstract. Close up however the viewer can discern glowing breasts, round chignons and curved arms holding the balled body of a baby. Closer again, the viewer is drawn to reach out and smooth hands over the cracks and grains in the wood which are an integral part of each final sculpture.

wang-keping Untitled ash

Untitled 14 2001 ash 46cms

“Wang Keping sometimes takes a year, sometimes up to three years to complete a sculpture” explains gallerist Katie de Tilly of 10 Chancery Lane who co-curated this show with Feng Boyi of the He Xiangning Museum. “He selects the wood when it is wet and then he waits to see how the wood cracks while it is drying and he lets these cracks direct him as he works towards the final form”.

Regarded as a founding father of Chinese contemporary political art which emerged after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1979, Wang Keping was one of the first artists to use his work publicly to criticise China and its government. In that year 23 artists came together to create the ‘Stars’ (Xing Ning) exhibition. This was an illegal exhibition in which the non-conformist and mostly self-taught artists hung their work on the railings of the National Art Museum of China before it was closed down by police.

Katie de Tilly takes up the story “After struggling with the authorities they managed to have it reopened in Behai Park two months later and this created an explosion which threw the doors to political and artistic freedom in China wide open.” The ground-breaking Stars Exhibition received international press coverage and the sculpture Silenceby Wang Keping made it to the front page of the New York Times where Fox Butterfield the newspaper’s Beijing correspondent commented “…Mr Wang’s brazenly political often grotesque sculptures stole the show”.

In 1984 frustrated by the restrictions of his homeland, Wang Keping emigrated to France with his wife Catherine Dezaly a French teacher at the Beijing University. The liberal climate in Europe allowed him to embrace his interest in the female form. “It is not only because I am a man, it is also because ..desire was prohibited. The leaders told us to work for the masses, the party. Sex was immoral, evil and capitalistic. At that time we never saw a woman’s body not even in books or films but it was something we always were thinking about”.

A man of strong enthusiasms Wang Keping’s appreciation of wood is sensual and his eyes light up with passion as he talks about its elemental qualities. “the wood whispers to me its secrets. Trees are like a human body with hard parts like bones, tender parts like flesh. You cannot go against its nature. I can do nothing but follow the wood and accept being its accomplice”.

But don’t be deceived by the distinctive tyle and repetition of motifs in Wang Keping’s works. He plays no part in contributing to China’s reputation for formulaic ‘pile ’em high’ market-feeding art. For example Wang Keping does not work with assistants: “Sculpting is like making love” he says “I don’t need anyone to help me”.

His art is slow, his vision unique and his execution his own. Perhaps this is what makes Wang Keping so confident that his work will stand the test of time. “What is important is that you create something that will remain throughout history. And with time it stays. Often all the superficial things float to the top and all the things that weigh sink to the bottom and when the water is poured away it is the things at bottom that remain.”

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Posted in China, Chinese, Cultural Revolution, Curators, Human Body, Museum shows, Political, Sculpture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Book: Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Things You Should Know

Posted by artradar on October 23, 2008


BOOK OVERVIEW CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART

Chinese Contemporary Art: 7 Things You Should Know – Melissa Chiu

In China today, contemporary art is readily available in public museums and private galleries in burgeoning gallery districts, and in three new art fairs in Beijing and Shanghai. Abroad, Chinese artists are the subject of museum retrospective exhibitions and grace the covers of international art magazines.

Chinese contemporary art has come of age; yet there are few reference books for the reader who wants a quick but precise history of the field. This book aims to fill that gap. Short and to the point, it is arranged into seven sections outlining the rudiments of Chinese contemporary art: what you need to know about the artists, the art market, and what can legitimately be called a new art movement, perhaps the first great art movement of the 21st century.

Sections:

  • Contemporary art in China began decades ago
  • Chinese contemporary art is more diverse than you might think
  • Museums and galleries have promoted Chinese contemporary art since the 1990s
  • Government censorship has been an influence on Chinese artists, and sometimes still is
  • The Chinese artists’ diaspora is returning to China
  • Contemporary art museums in China are on the rise
  • The world is collecting Chinese contemporary art

 Artists:

Weiwei AI(艾未未), Guoqiang CAI(蔡國強), Xin CANG(蒼鑫), Fei CAO(曹斐 b.1978), Danqing CHEN(陳丹青 b.1953), Zhen CHEN(陳箴), Xiuwen CUI(崔岫聞 b.1970), Lijun FANG(方力鈞), Mengbo FENG(馮夢波), Jianyi GENG(耿建翌), Dexin GU(顧德新), Wenda GU(谷文達), Bo HAI(海波), Duoling HE(何多苓 b.1948), Hao HONG(洪浩), Lei HONG(洪磊), Rui HUANG(黃銳), Yan HUANG(黃岩 b.1966), Yongping HUANG(黃永砅), Shan LI(李山 b.1942), Shuang LI(李爽), Tianmiao LIN(林天苗), Yilin LIN(林一林 b.1964), Wei LIU(劉煒 b.1965), Xiaodong LIU(劉小東), Desheng MA(馬德升), Liuming MA(馬六明), Zhilong QI(祁志龍 b.1962), Zhijie QIU(邱志傑 b.1969), Rong RONG(榮榮), Dong SONG(宋冬), Jianguo SUI(隨建國), Du WANG(王度), Gongxin WANG(王功新), Guangyi WANG(王廣義), Jianwei WANG(汪建偉), Jin WANG(王晉 b.1962), Jinsong WANG(王勁松), Keping WANG(王克平 b.1949), Qingsong WANG(王慶松), Shanzhuan WU(吳山專), Lu XIAO(肖魯 b.1962), Danwen XING(邢丹文), Bing XU(徐冰), Lei YAN(顏磊), Peiming YAN(嚴培明), Fudong YANG(楊福東 b.1971), Jiechang YANG(楊詰蒼 b.1956), Shaobin YANG(楊少斌), Xiuzhen YIN(尹秀珍 b.1963), Minjun YUE(岳敏君 b.1962), Fanzhi ZENG(曾梵志), Wang ZHAN(展望), Dali ZHANG(張大力), Huan ZHANG(張洹), Peili ZHANG(張培力), Xiaogang ZHANG(張曉剛 b.1958), Chunya ZHOU(周春芽), Ming ZHU(朱冥 b.1972)

Buy this book on Amazon.

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