An oil painting by pioneer Singapore artist Cheong Soo Pieng, which sold for HK$7.72 million (S$1.4 million) at Christie's in Hong Kong yesterday, was among the nine artist records set at the landmark auction of Singapore art.
Cheong's Balinese Dance (1953) beat his last auction record of HK$5.92 million for the oil painting Making Up (1951), which was set at Christie's Asian 20th-century and contemporary art sale in November last year.
Balinese Dance also fetched the highest price at the sale, which was dedicated entirely to Singapore art to mark the country's Golden Jubilee. In total, the sale rang in HK$36.79 million, placing it at almost 97 per cent of the high estimate for the auction.
Of the 41 lots, 32 exceeded their price estimates, including the work Light The Caretaker (2015) by 25- year-old Singapore artist Ruben Pang. It had a price estimate of between HK$60,000 and HK$80,000 and sold for HK$187,500. This is the most paid at an auction for Pang's work, whose last record was S$10,620 for the work Untitled (2008), set at a 2013 sale by home-grown auction house 33 Auction.
Christie's head of sale for South- east Asian art Wang Zineng said: "The first-ever special sale of Singapore art at Christie's saw the gathering of both seasoned and new collectors bidding passionately, establishing a record sale and new level of market penetration for Singapore art in the Asian art market."
A REFLECTION OF INTEREST
The results are a fair reflection of the market's sentiment.
MR HO SOU PING, founder of artcommune gallery
Chua Ek Kay's Archipelago 1, 2 & 3 (1999) also set an auction record for the artist. The three ink-and-colour-on-rice-paper paintings, originally created as independent works in Chua's Archipelago series of abstract landscapes, were brought together and sold for HK$875,000.
The previous record for Chua was HK$400,000 for his ink-and-colour-on-paper work, The Season Of Seagulls (2006), set at Christie's Asian 20th-century art sale in May.
Artist records were also set for Lim Cheng Hoe, Chen Chong Swee, Tay Bak Koi, Teng Nee Cheong, Chia Yu Chian and Lee Hock Moh, between the range of HK$200,000 and HK$687,500.
Lee, 68, is the only living artist among the eight who set auction records. His quadriptych ink-and- colour-on-paper work - Nature's Melody; Everlasting Bliss; Flora And Fauna; Peace And Harmony (2015) - sold for HK$350,000, overtaking his Wings Of Happiness, which sold for HK$237,500 at Christie's Asian 20th-century art sale in 2013.
Lee, a Cultural Medallion recipient, told Life in Mandarin: "It took me three months to make this large-scale work. The process was painstaking. So I am happy that people appreciate my paintings. It motivates me to strive hard in my art."
Singapore artist Sun Yee, whose work went under the hammer at an international auction house for the first time, also did well. The late artist, who founded the now-defunct Singapore Academy of Arts and was among the few female artists active in Singapore's modern art scene, had her oil painting, Medley Of Dances, sell for HK$475,000.
Mr Ho Sou Ping, 43, founder of artcommune gallery, which promotes the work of Singapore artists, said: "The results are a fair reflection of the market's sentiment. Many collectors are keen on Singapore art, and this comes at a time when Singapore artists have their works hung up in the National Gallery Singapore."
Correction note: An earlier version of this story stated that eight artist records were set at the landmark auction. The auction house has since updated the list.