Eyes On The Prize: 9 Top Lots At The Asia Art Archive 2017

Arts

October 13, 2017 | BY Cherry Lai

This fall, the city’s Asian contemporary art crowd will be abuzz with a certain anticipation—paddles in hand—for the bidding war that is Asia Art Archive’s annual fundraising gala and live auction taking place on November 4. The glitzy affair, which raises over half of the non-profit’s annual fund, supports its mission to make contemporary art in Asia and its documented histories easily accessible.

At the coveted event, a dazzling host of almost 70 contemporary works by celebrated artists such as Nobuyoshi Araki, Gao Ludi and Candida Höfer will go under the hammer, while keen collectors and aficionados can get bidding on the pieces now at an online bidding platform.

We asked six in-the-know aficionados and patrons of Asia Art Archive—William Zhao, William Lim, Dee Poon, Hugh Zimmern, Reina Chau and Diah Djojonegoro—to handpick a few of their top lots. Check out the pieces that caught their eyes:

Kong Chun Hei, Stuff IX (2015), ink on paper mounted on stainless steel. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Stuff IX by Kong Chun Hei

Kong Chun Hei’s transformation of everyday objects used as construction materials speaks to his versatility as an artist. Simultaneously an ink painting and a piece of sculpture, Stuff IX upends preconceptions of industrial materials and challenges how we look at the ordinary objects that make up urban environments. Unlike an architect, who uses these building blocks to construct cities, Kong uses the same items to deconstruct the created realities within the places we live.

“Kong Chun Hei is known for his multimedia works that make people ponder realities in this urbanised environment. His works employ industrial materials and sometimes incorporate with ink and paper. This work again creates the surface of steel with ink and paper. I particularly appreciate how he manipulates the contrasting relationship of his subject and materials, and this piece is humble as usual but creates an intriguing visual impact.”

William Zhao, critic, curator, collector and Hong Kong Tatler’s editor-at-large for art

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Eyes On The Prize: 9 Top Lots At The Asia Art Archive 2017
Yu Youhan, Abstract201701 (2017), acrylic on canvas. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Abstract201701 by Yu Youhan

A recent work, Abstract 201707 is a fresh take on the circle paintings that cemented his reputation as the father of abstract painting in China. The cycles in Yu Youhan's paintings symbolise both a single moment and eternity, with the movement implied in their shape referring to both expansion and containment. Yu's circle paintings are inspired by Laozi's Tao Te Ching, which proposes that the universe is alive and in a permanent state of change.

"My favourite is this new painting by Yu Youhan. Yu is one of the most respected Chinese painters who has stayed true to his art despite the crazy market. He takes time to study each painting he creates. His work is personal and emotional. This is a beautiful new direction towards abstraction."

William Lim, architect, artist, collector, managing director of architecture and interior design firm CL3

Ayesha Sultana, Doubles (set of 5) (2016), works on paper. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Doubles by Ayesha Sultana

Dhaka-based artist Ayesha Sultana works in myriad media and techniques to investigate the formal properties of materials and the significance of the medium itself. This set of "drawings"-produced by photocopying and re-copying images photographs, exhibited during Sultana's first solo show at Kolkata's Experimenter Gallery, focuses one's awareness on what is beyond the immediate field of vision and speaks to Sultana's devotion to "doing" by using various methods to make what is invisible wholly tangible to viewers.

"I find these fascinating – they are emotive and thought-provoking.  I like that acts of manipulation and creation and the artistic process are so much a part of the work."

Dee Poon, managing director and chief brand officer of PYE and London’s Tate and New York’s MoMA council member

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Eyes On The Prize: 9 Top Lots At The Asia Art Archive 2017
Clare Woods, Forget Me Not (2015), oil on aluminum. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Forget Me Not by Clare Woods

Known for her large-scale works, which include a permanent mural for the London 2012 Olympic Park commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society, Clare Woods brings the same intensity and psychological depth to her smaller canvases. In Forget Me Not, Woods manipulates the paint's texture and density to create a three-dimensional painting that alludes both to metamorphosis and to the duality of the human body as an object that is both fragile and powerful in its humanity.

"I do like paint more than things cast in plastic waste, knitted in wire wool, stuck with chewed bubble gum, biofluids... So obviously I love this painting by Clare Woods. She comes from a long line of English landscape painters but her work departs from this tradition in its dark, sinister quality; she paints with great confidence and spontaneity. Her new paintings are of the body and seem to capture the body’s pain and fragility. Forget Me Not, is of a foot, on point, in a landscape." 

Hugh Zimmern, interior designer, architect, and owner of gin bar Ping Pong 129 Gintonería and homewares business Faux

Hu Fang, Home for Books and a Selection from the Under the Influence Reading List (2016-2017), laos teak bookshelves and books. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Home for Books by Hu Fang

Master carpenters followed Hu Fang's design to create Home for Books using traditional Chinese mortise-and-tenon woodworking methods. Hu envisioned an architectural structure where books could reside, a type of residential building where they could be free to arrange themselves according to their sizes and personalities.

The books were selected from the reading list of AAA's Under the Influence project, which was launched at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017. AAA asked artists from around the world about the books that inspire them; the project continues to travel to schools in Hong Kong. The volumes in this lot are brand new, ordered specficially for this auction. For this set, we produced a fresh batch of cards with artist's personal stories about their selected titles.

"Conceptually a powerful but simple statement - that reading and books are fundamental to creativity. Reminiscent of Carol Bove's early installations.”

Reina Chau, partner in fashion company Ni-Chi and Hong Kong Tatler’s Most Stylish award recipient

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Eyes On The Prize: 9 Top Lots At The Asia Art Archive 2017
Arin Sunaryo, Lagedu #2 (2017), pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print mounted on wooden panel. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Lagedu #2 by Arin Sunaryo

Intrigued by contemporary society's desire to retain traditions and cultures, Arin Sunaryo uses volcanic ash from Indonesia and industrial resin-two substances with preservative qualities-to express this resistance against time. The distinctive depth and tone that can be seen in Lagedu #2 result from the fusion of the volcanic ash with the pigments in the resin. Sunaryo has used gestural abstraction to highlight the flow of the resin, taking advantage of its quick-drying properties to allow his process and the moment to be frozen in time.

“I find it surreal how Sunaryo's volcanic ash series captures such a beautiful moment in time, where "ash" suspends itself amidst the chaotic surroundings. It speaks both silence and excitement.”

Diah Djojonegoro, jewelry designer and founder of Diah D Fine Jewelry

Liu Wei, Untitled (2017), oil on canvas. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Untitled by Liu Wei

Representing a new direction in Liu Wei's work, the painting encapsulates and explores the energy of urban life that he is best known for in his abstract landscapes. However, unlike previous work which mostly start as a digital image, this came to exist directly on canvas, pointing to a more painterly approach in his practice. This work was a personal donation directly from Liu Wei, one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists from China.

“The artist works with various mediums and expresses his concerns for the drastic development of China. His paintings typically depict landscapes and urban cities in abstract lines. In this recent painting, the abstract and upwards moving lines form an unknown landscape, I enjoy how the moving lines are frozen to capture a moment in this scenery.”

William Zhao, critic, curator, collector and Hong Kong Tatler’s editor-at-large for art

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Eyes On The Prize: 9 Top Lots At The Asia Art Archive 2017
Fang Lu, Tank (2017), colour photograph. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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Tank by Fang Lu

Co-founder of Video Bureau, a crucial video archive resource in China, Fang Lu is an important figure in the Chinese art scene in her own right. A new work that is seen here for the first time, Tank is inspired by the psychological effects of isolation tanks. Using a simple, repetitive beat to create a form of sensory deprivation, Fang explores the possibility of drawing out the unconscious mind and experiencing her environment as though it were an isolation tank.

“Art is often isolating, insofar as the experience of it is so personal.   Even when we are together, we are alone.”       

Dee Poon, managing director and chief brand officer of PYE and London’s Tate and New York’s MoMA council member

Wang Dongling, 大本 (2014), ink on paper. Image: Courtesy of Asia Art Archive
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大本 by Wang Dongling

One of the most renowned modernist Chinese calligraphers, Wang Dongling highlights the performative element of traditional Chinese calligraphy in this dramatic work. Typical of his best pieces, 大本emphasises gesture over content and assigns value to the act of writing as an expression of how the body and the process of creation relate to each other.

Made especially as a gift to Asia Art Archive, 大本 is written in Wang's signature luanshu or chaos script, a groundbreaking style in which the movements of his fingertips, arms and body contribute to the generation of dynamic text that borders on illegibility and chaos. Inspired by the tangled stems of lotus plants, the calligraphy embodies the tension between the artist's control of his brush and the wild energy of performance. A touching and unsolicited memento of his love for AAA and its mission, the painting arrived unexpected at the Archive one day, posted by him in a plain brown envelope, as a personal contribution of support.

“I love that you can feel all of Wang's emotions through his body of work. His brushstrokes are so raw, it is almost as if it becomes its own language. Pure madness on paper!”

Diah Djojonegoro, jewelry designer and founder of Diah D Fine Jewelry

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