Align­ing En­er­gies

Pinnacle (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

CEO of World of Feng Shui Jennifer Too shares her in­sights on ge­o­mancy and leading a good life.

Amaya Chan learns that Asia has now be­come a global hub for the arts, with Asian artists and buy­ers dom­i­nat­ing the mar­ket and over­shad­ow­ing their North Amer­i­can and Euro­pean coun­ter­parts.

A loud, em­phatic ex­cla­ma­tion echoed through­out the auc­tion hall, evok­ing wide­spread laugh­ter. A mem­ber of the au­di­ence had just tabled a US$5.8 mil­lion (S$7.3 mil­lion) bid for an un­ti­tled art piece by Asian ab­stract pain­ter Chu Teh-Chun.

Not that there was any­thing funny about this par­tic­u­lar sce­nario – the only anom­aly was that this en­thu­si­as­tic bid­der made his in­ten­tions known even be­fore the auc­tion­eer could an­nounce the start­ing bid.The paint­ing, es­ti­mated to fetch be­tween US$4 mil­lion and US$5 mil­lion, even­tu­ally sold for US$9.1 mil­lion. Not sur­pris­ingly, the paint­ing was sold to the same per­son who could not con­tain his ex­cite­ment. An­other high­light of the event was when an anony­mous buyer swooped in for Zeng Fanzhi’s Hospi­tal Tip­tych No. 3 and bought it for a stag­ger­ing US$14,675,902.

A His­toric Night It was a truly mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion at the Asian 20th Century and Con­tem­po­rary Art evening sale at Christie’s Hong Kong – the art pieces re­alised a to­tal of US$121.2 mil­lion that night, the high­est ever at the auc­tion house. Six Asian artists – in­clud­ing the late Lee Man Fong, who painted Bali Life – saw their art smash world auc­tion records that fateful evening.

Of the 10 high­est prices in that auc­tion, ar t pieces sold for an aver­age of at least twice their es­ti­mated prices. One such ex­am­ple was Chi­nese artist Sanyu’s Femme en rouge, which sold for US$6.5 mil­lion when its es­ti­mate by the auc­tion house was only US$1.9 mil­lion to US$2.6 mil­lion.

The record-break­ing num­bers only fur­ther re­in­forced the no­tion that the very cen­tre of the con­tem­po­rary art world – once deeply en­trenched in New York City and Lon­don – has al­ready shifted to­wards Asia. In 2011, Chi­nese mod­ernists Zhang Daqian and Qi Baishi were the world’s top best-sell­ing artists. A year later, the top lot at Sotheby’s 2012 Con­tem­po­rary Asian sale was Zhang Xiao­gang’s Tianan­men No. 1 – a Euro­pean col­lec­tor bought it for US$2.7 mil­lion. In­done­sian Lee Man Fong’s For­tune and Longevity also set a new South-east Asian record with its US$4.4 mil­lion sale in the same year.

“Nowa­days, the con­tem­po­rary art world is more de­cen­tralised. In Asia, you have China, In­dia and In­done­sia as the big­gest mar­kets. Other con­ti­nents like Africa, the Mid­dle East and Latin Amer­ica are also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a boom in their art scenes,” said Lorenzo Ru­dolf, CEO and Fair Di­rec­tor of Art Stage, a global and an­nual art event.

The Rise of Asian Art This phe­nom­e­non is not just hap­pen­ing in the East. Last March, the Guggen­heim in New York City re­ceived a US$10 mil­lion grant to com­mis­sion works from artists born in China,Tai­wan, Hong Kong or Ma­cau.The grant will also be used to pay for a cu­ra­tor to fo­cus en­tirely on con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese art.

So why is Asian con­tem­po­rary art on the rise when the world is gen­er­ally more fa­mil­iar with names like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Lu­cien Freud?

“This is be­cause of the in­creas­ing im­por­tance of Asia in its global eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal role,”

ex­plained Ru­dolf. “Asian cul­tural and her­itage are now much more in­flu­en­tial than be­fore. Art fol­lows wealth. Asian coun­tries have a large num­ber of high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als who ap­pre­ci­ate good art and life­style,” he added.

And it’s not just Asian art that’s en­joy­ing a boom. Asian buy­ers, too, are dom­i­nat­ing the mar­ket. Head of the In­ter­na­tional Art Ad­vi­sory Vi­ola Raikhel-Bolot was quoted in Knight Frank’s 2013 Wealth Re­port as say­ing that China is now the undis­puted leader in the art mar­ket with 30 per cent of the pie.

A Spir­i­tual In­vest­ment But while the hoi pol­loi may think of ar t as an in­vest­ment, spe­cial­ists are quick to dis­agree. Christie’s New York ve­he­mently re­jected such a no­tion, and Michael Find­lay, Di­rec­tor of New York’s Ac­qua­vella Gal­leries, told Forbes that while auc­tion data can in­deed show that cer­tain art­works sell at a high value, more than half of the art trans­ac­tions around the world hap­pen be­hind closed doors.

“How can an­a­lysts claim to ad­dress a mar­ket where over 50 per cent of the data can­not be known?” he ques­tioned.

When quizzed about in­vest­ment vi­a­bil­ity, Ru­dolf quoted in­flu­en­tial 20th century artist Pablo Pi­casso: “We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us re­alise truth – at least the truth that is given to us to un­der­stand.”

What col­lec­tors do with art in­stead, Ru­dolf said, is to try to fos­ter a bet­ter con­nec­tion with their in­ner selves through the ex­change with art.

“Yes (it is an in­vest­ment), but it should not be a fi­nan­cial one. It’s like in­vest­ing in your spir­i­tual self. It’s the idea in the ar twork that at­tracts people to buy ar t.”

02 02 Zeng Fanzhi’s Hospi­tal Tip­tych No. 3 was sold for an as­tound­ing US$14,675,902. 03 Chi­nese artist Sanyu’s Femme en rouge fetched US$6.5 mil­lion, more than twice its es­ti­mated sale price of US$1.9 mil­lion to US$2.6 mil­lion.

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01 An art buyer makes a bid dur­ing an auc­tion at Christie’s Hong Kong.

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