Sotheby's Hong Kong Results, Day Two - April 9,2008 on the second day of Sotheby’s spring 2008 sales at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, sales of Chinese Contemporary Art, totaled HK$403,042,750 (US$51,734,568)
The highlight of the Estella Collection was Zhang Xiaogang’s Bloodline: The Big Family No.3 , which commanded HK$47,364,500, selling to an Asian Private collector (US$6,061,619), far exceeding its high estimate and a record for the artist at auction (lot 1115, est. HK$19.5/27 million / est. US$2.5/3.5 million). Considered the most significant example of the iconic Bloodline: The Big Family series, this oil on canvas was one of a group of four paintings submitted for the centenary 46th Venice Biennale in 1995 executed early on in Zhang’s career in 1995. Not only does the present work stand out as his first direct and profound response to the political and social tensions that lie at the very heart of the series – the central figure is depicted wearing a Mao badge – but the scale of this canvas, at 179 by 229 centimetres, marked Zhang’s first bold articulation of the Bloodline aesthetic.
Other stand-outs of the Collection were Zeng Fanzhi’s Chairman Mao With Us, 2005, which marks a pivotal moment of development in Zeng’s career in which he concentrated on landscape and figural compositions within and sold for HK$8,167,500 to a Hong Kong Private Collector (US$1,045,195) (lot 1183, est. HK$2.7/4.3 million / US$347/555,000); Cai Guo-Qiang’s Two Wandering Tigers, 2005, one of the artist’s signature gunpowder on paper works, which achieved HK$7,607,500, also selling to a Hong Kong Private Collector (US$973,532) (lot 1149, est. HK$4/5 million / US$512,800/641,000), and Xu Bing’s The Living Word, 2001, an installation which depicts Chinese characters rising from the printed page and taking flight as birds, which also realised HK$7,607,500, selling to an Indonesian Private Collector, a record for the artist at auction (US$973,532) (lot 1151, est. HK$3.5/4.5 million / US$449/515,000).
Chinese Contemporary Art (Various-Owners)
The various-owners sale of Chinese Contemporary Art brought HK$263,690,750 (US$33,847,345) (est. HK$204,743,000/$269,285,000 / US$26,249,101/34,523,717) and was highlighted by the exceptional Battlefield Realism: The Eighteen Arhats by Liu Xiaodong, one of the most prominent neo-realist Chinese contemporary artists, which sold for HK$61,927,500 (US$7,949,014), a record for the artist at auction (lot 938, est. HK$45/55 million / US$5.7/7 million). This large-scale work consists of nine pairs of life-size (200 by 100cm) paintings, each juxtaposing a Taiwanese soldier with a soldier from mainland China. This monumental group of paintings represents the artist’s profound response to a sensitive issue: China’s relations across the Taiwan Strait. Within Liu’s entire oeuvre, this is the only work that directly addresses political issues. Liu successfully transgresses and blurs the border between mainland China and Taiwan, with the clear message: beyond nationality and politics, all humans are the same. The piece was executed in 2004 for the “Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art – 18 Solo Exhibitions” curated by Cai Guo-Qiang.
Another highlight of the sale was Guo Bochuan’s The Forbidden City, 1946, which offers a strikingly refreshing and yet traditionally majestic view of the palace, brought HK$27,205,500 / US$3,492,355 and set a new record for the artist at auction (lot 858, est. HK$30/40 million / US$3.8/5.1