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Thursday, April 7, 2016, 08:52

Bidding for variety

By Chitralekha Basu

Bidding for variety
Zhang Daqian’s Peach Blossom Spring went to Long Museum Shanghai for a record HK$271 million.

Introducing newer artists

Perhaps it would be a bit simplistic to assume auction houses are playing it safe, dishing out more of the familiar and the trendy, and not doing much to bring the relatively unknown — artists, genres, styles, regions or schools of art — to the fore. It’s just that they have yet more ground to cover, especially here in Hong Kong, the port through which the bulk of art produced in Asia is bought and sold.

Chu agrees that although traditionally auction houses have not played the role of introducing newer artists to the market,  that would indeed be a welcome development, given “auction houses in Asia are woefully limited in the range of art they offer, and beyond presenting the original Chinese contemporary generation of artists they have lagged behind the market”. “Asia’s art audience is still so underexposed that it would be a public service,” he adds.

One or two auction houses representing regional interests have already taken on such a role. Even as connoisseurs with deep pockets try to outbid each other to get hold of the remaining pieces of Zhang Daqian and Yayoi Kusama, earlier this week Seoul Auction in Hong Kong quietly sold a work by South Korean artist Kim Whan-ki for nearly HK$39 million — a record price fetched by a work of contemporary South Korean artist.

A change is already underway.

Bidding for variety
Yayoi Kusama has been a staple of Hong Kong auction houses such as Sotheby’s. Infinity-Nets (above) was featured this season.

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