Auction records set at landmark sale of Singapore art

Balinese Dance by Cheong Soo Pieng sold for HK$7.72 million (S$1.408 million) at Christie's in Hong Kong on Nov 29, 2015.
Balinese Dance by Cheong Soo Pieng sold for HK$7.72 million (S$1.408 million) at Christie's in Hong Kong on Nov 29, 2015. PHOTO: CHRISTIE'S

An oil painting by pioneer Singapore artist Cheong Soo Pieng, which sold for HK$7.72 million (S$1.408 million) at Christie's in Hong Kong today, was among the eight 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 last November.

Balinese Dance also fetched the highest price at the sale 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 sale.

 

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 to HK$80,000 and sold for HK$187,500.

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 - 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 it comes at a time when Singapore artists have their works hung up in the grand National Gallery Singapore."