From Midnight Vampire to Infinite: Top Lots from Nara to Kusama at Christie’s Hong Kong Sales

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This month, Christie’s will hold three sales of Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art in Hong Kong. Held on 25 and 26 November, the sales offer a group of important works by modern and contemporary masters. Iconic artists, such as Zao Wou-ki, Wu Guangzhong, Yoshitomo Nara and Yayoi Kuama will be presented at the sales with a comprehensive narrative charting the evolution of key artistic movements and how these artists matured through their careers.
Masterpieces by Zao Wou-ki and Wu Guanzhong – two of the most well-respected Asian 20th Century masters — will lead the sales, marking one of the most valuable groupings ever to be offered in a single auction season. Meanwhile, a supreme line-up of Japanese Post-War and Contemporary works will include Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Atsuko Tanaka and Yoshitomo Nara. The Asian art auctions are only complete with works by masters from Southeast Asia such as Ahmad Sadali and Jose Joya.
Larry’s List highlights 10 works from the auctions. And what’s more: Do not miss which collectors are already collecting artworks of these artists!




1)    ZAO WOU-KI
Collectors of Zao Wou-ki: Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Zheng Hao, Mingzhe Lin (data provided by Larry’s List)

An epitome of the Chinese modern art movement, 29.01.64 was created at a time when Zao started to shift his style from being meticulously focused on detail to a much more liberating form of artistic expression. This work demonstrates how he combined western expressionist techniques with innovative art movements of the time, pioneering his distinctive and unparalleled approach.

Estimate: HK$85,000,000-125,000,000 / US$11,000,000-16,000,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


55708753_Yoshitomo Nara_Midnigth Vampire

Collectors of Nara: Adrian Cheng, Lu Xun, Daisuke Miyatsu, Burger Collection (data provided by Larry’s List)

A large group of Nara works will be presented at this auction across a wide spectrum of mediums – from colour pencil on paper, acrylic, oil on canvas to sculptures, providing a unique glimpse into the diverse body of work from this universally loved artist. It is apparent in many of his recent works that the Nara had shifted his focus from the subject matter of rebellion to topics that require more quiet contemplations. The 2010 work “Midnight Vampire” thoroughly demonstrates this major transformation.

“Midnight Vampire”
Estimate: HK$7,000,000-10,000,000 / US$910,000-1,300,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


55708760a_Yoshitomo Nara_Our Thai House Mini


Yoshitomo Nara’s three-dimensional work “Our Thai House Mini” is also a miniature house. This is an especially rare format within the oeuvre of the artist – the form of the house references the Thai stilt house with a vaulted roof. The mental states of humans are always changing. An optimistic appearance can be used to mask various degrees of fragility and anxiety. They need to be respected, empathised, and consoled. The art of Yoshitomo Nara captures the hearts of the public because it constantly acknowledges these universalities in humanity. And “Our Thai House Mini” serves as a sanctuary in which the soul can seek respite from reality and soar across the realm of fairytales.

“Our Thai House Mini”
HK$4,000,000-6,000,000 / US$520,000-770,000
Sale: Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)


55503853_Yayoi Kusama_Untitled (Infinity Net)

Collectors of Kusama: Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Zhou Chong, David Roberts, Antoine de Galbert (data provided by Larry’s List)

周艟The first artwork ever purchased by Zhou Chong in 2010 was a self-portrait of Kusama, and he claimed that his most treasure artwork “must be Yayoi Kusama’s self-portrait”¹.

Painted in the 1960s, when this milestone series was in its nascent stage, this work witnessed moments of critical metamorphosis in Kusama’s artistic career. Sinuous red lines weave an organic net that extends indefinitely. “Untitled” attempts to ensnare everything that comes into its way until the whole world is captured. This work was acquired directly by an American private collector from Kusama herself in the 1960s, and it remained with that collector until a family member inherited the painting. This is the first time that it has been made available for the public to see in over half a century.

Estimate: HK$22,000,000-32,000,000 / US$2,900,000-4,100,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


56023817_Atsuko Tanaka_'84A

Collectors of Tanaka: Yongha Park, Susan & Larry Marx, Lito Camacho (data provided by Larry’s List)

Atsuko Tanaka created this large-scale work, ’84A’, in 1984, at the age of 52. That year marked the 20th anniversary of her participation in the Guggenheim International Award Exhibition with her colleague, Jiro Yoshihara. Tanaka by that time was already a well-known name in the international art scene, and ‘84A is one of the most outstanding and prized pieces from her mature period. According to published documents, ‘84A was the second largest painting Tanaka produced in the 1980s.

Estimate: HK$10,000,000-12,000,000 / US$1,300,000-1,500,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


56208221_Sanyu_margin cropped

6)    SANYU
Collectors of Sanyu: Leo Shih, Richard M. Tsai, Pierre Chen (data provided by Larry’s List)

In the 1930s, Sanyu created Bouquet of Marguerites (Bouquet of Marguerites), a representative masterpiece among his flower vase oeuvres. During that period, Sanyu had mastered his unique painting style that brimmed with sophistication and personal flair. He was hailed
as an iconic artist in the School of Paris. The composition of Bouquet of Marguerites is delightful to the eyes. The flower vase is positioned at the connexion of the pastel pink background and broad white edges. The upper portion of the vase and the flowers are somewhat blended in with the pink background, the exception being one red blossom slighting poking out to the milky white. This gives the composition a hint of uncertainty, that underneath the tranquil beauty lies a certain restlessness.

“Bouquet de Marguerites (Bouquet of Marguerites)”
Estimate: HK$50,000,000-60,000,000 / US$6,500,000-7,700,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


56208214_Wu Guanzhong_Golden Field

Collectors of Wu Guanzhong: Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Xie Jinmu, Zheng Hao, Mingzhe Lin (data provided by Larry’s List)

tanokoWijono Tanoko, one of Indonesia’s top collectors once remarked, “I like Wu Guanzhong’s work the most because he is a genius: his artistic prowess is apparent in his oil paintings, his watercolours and his sketches. The fact that there is so much written material available about Wu Guanzhong’s art means that if there is a work offered at Christie’s, I am able to use my grading method in order to judge it. I guess it’s a combination between my passion and this ability to assess his work that has helped me to acquire such wonderful artworks”².

“Golden Field”, painted in 1977, depicts the brilliant yellow flowers of a broad, rolling field of canola in bloom in early spring in southern China. The beauty of the countryside is
 the work’s underlying theme, its basic visual structure formed from the overlays of vertical and horizontal lines and blocks of colour. Wu’s lyrical, free brushwork outlines this poetic scene of his homeland with an ideal balance between concentration and openness, as pleasing variation emerges even 
in his compact and concentrated style. “Golden Field” embodies the vividness and flavour always sought in traditional Chinese painting, while taking the challenge to create innovative forms of expression in modern Western oil painting, with its points, lines, planes, and planar forms.

“Golden Field”
Estimate: HK$22,000,000-28,000,000 / US$2,900,000-3,600,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


56468557_Ahmad Sadali_Gunungan

Collectors of Sadali: Dr. Oei Hong Djien, Syakieb Sungkar (data provided by Larry’s List)

Completed in 1981, Komposisi Segitiga Bernuansa Biru is a realisation of Sadali’s modernity that took form in the application of gold leaf, the creation of textures, and the gunungan (mountain) theme in a highly-composed piece that evoke a range of tactile and viewing sensations. In Komposisi Segitiga Bernuansa Biru, the geometric form of the triangle and its repetition through various harmonious combinations and arrangements in the painting are also reminiscent of Islamic art and its use of geometric motifs, a reference to the artist’s religious values.

“Komposisi Segitiga Bernuansa Biru (Triangle Composition in Blue)”
Estiamte: HK$700,000-900,000 / US$91,000-120,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)


56176605_Tetsuya Ishida_General Manager's Chair in an Abandoned Building

Collectors of Ishida: Yongha Park, Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian (data provided by Larry’s List)

Looking at the complete oeuvre from Ishida’s ten-year long career, “The General Manager’s Chair in an Abandoned Building” can be considered an elegy, which most succinctly describes social and workplace stratification in Japan. Filled with Ishida’s signature imagery of surrealistic fantasy,
the sole character in the picture is the so- called manager. The General Manager’s Chair in an Abandoned Building profoundly explains how an individual can play multiple roles in a society- in a hierarchical world, ranking, be it high or low, is not absolute
but rather merely relative.

“The General Manager’s Chair in an Abandoned Building”
Estimate: HK$3,000,000-5,000,000 / US$390,000-640,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)



Collectors of Murakami: Fraçois Pinault, Kanye West, Damien Hirst, Dakis Joannou, Anita & Poju Zabludowicz, Mera & Don Rubell, Zheng Hao, Ryotaro Takahashi, Adam Lindemann, Amy & John Phelan (data provided by Larry’s List)

Takashi Murakami’s “Superflat, first love, flower” appears as a blossoming multitude of contradictions. The painted surface appears, as
its title promises, ‘super flat’ yet simultaneously exudes a pulsating energy and sense of depth.
The flower-like characters recall the natural
world, while their vibrant colour alludes to that which can only be manmade. The acrylic paint on the work’s aluminum surface is so meticulously worked by hand that it is rendered to look as if the composition had been digitally generated.

“Superflat, First Love, Flower”
Estimate: HK$7,000,000-9,000,000 / US$910,000-1,200,000
Sale: Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)



¹ Larry’s List
² Christie’s 

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