Collectors will scamble for Ullens Collection II on Oct 2 at Sotheby's HK

Chen Zhen (1955-2000)
Divine Judgment (1992) (Est. HK$4 – 6 million / US$520,000 – US$770,000)

Following hot on the heels of the first hugely successful sale of the Ullens Collection, Sotheby’s HK is at it again with part two –The Ullens Collection – Experimentation and Evolution – to take place on October 2.  It’s being touted as the last sale of the collection, so expect collectors to compete fiercely to get a piece of art history. Altogether the sale offers a total of 90 lots estimated to achieve in excess of $10 million. The Catalogue is a must have for those interested in Chinese contemporary art history.


Zeng Fanzhi - Masks Series 1998, No. 26

Liu Ye - Portrait of Qi Baishi, 1996
Early works of important artists including Zeng Fanzhi and Liu Ye (as above) remain a significant part of the sale, but the offering this season also highlights a diverse range of experimental works from the 1990s, created by pioneers in conceptual, installation and sculptural art working ahead of their contemporaries, including Chen Zhen and Sui Jianguo.

Chen Zhen’s Divine Judgment is one of the highlights. Chen was based in France in the latter part of his life; he was also one of the first Chinese conceptual artists to receive international acclaim. Having emigrated from China in 1986, Chen fully understood the meaning of being “the other” when he formulated the idea of “trans-experience”: a cultural homelessness where one does not belong to anybody yet is in possession of everything.  Here the artist printed French press clippings on nine wooden panels. The texts chronicled important events of the late 1980s, among them the global threat of AIDS, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the democracy movement in China. He also added texts extracted from such Chinese classics as The Book of Changes (Yi Jing), Customs of Cambodia, and Journey to the West (Da Tang Xiyou Ji). These cross-cultural excerpts express his longing for the future and the sense of helplessness he felt about the present. The ashes of newspapers piled at the upper left-hand corner are distinctive signatures of the artist during the 1990’s.
Sui JianguoThe Shadow of the Century
This sale highlights four representative works by Sui Jianguo: his early Structure Series, from which two works were selected, an unusually large scale sculpture from the oft-exhibited Legacy Mantle series as well as Shadow of the Century, which is rarely seen in the market.

This piece above is actually the archetype that eventually led to the Legacy Mantle series, comprising a series of 10 small-sized aluminium Mao suits, each framed by newspaper clippings that narrate a segment of Chinese history. Combining elements from the East and West, the Mao suit was costume de rigueur for all Chinese historical figures of the 20th century. With a sense of solemnity, the suit stands as a monument for generations of Chinese people, embodying the country’s history in the
past century imbued with conflicts and complexities.

There will also be plenty of interesting video art.

Qiu Zhijie - Ten Tang Poems,

Starting in 1985 with the ’85 New Wave, video art spread rapidly from Hangzhou to the rest of China, becoming a significant creative outlet for Chinese artists. A preferred medium documenting important artistic performances, it has long been neglected and underrated in the market. The auction features works by Lin Yilin, Qiu Zhijie and Cui Xiuwen.

Zhou Chunya

One of the piece that intrigued me was Zhou Chunya's Red Hugging Lovers, 1998. The artist is better known for his Green Dog series, but apparently he also had an erotica period with his Red People series.

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