Collecting Art and Design with Phillips

Natee Utarit, Tomoo Gokita and Zao Wou-Ki with Finn Juhl
By A&M

Natee Utarit, 'The Commitment (Illustration of the Crisis Series)', 2011, oil on linen, 140 x 170cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Natee Utarit, 'The Commitment (Illustration of the Crisis Series)', 2011, oil on linen, 140 x 170cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Phillips will hold its 20th Century Contemporary Art & Design Evening and Day Sales on 26 May 2019 in Hong Kong. We speak with Christine Fernando, Associate Regional Representative, Singapore, to learn more about highlights from the sales, collecting trends in Southeast Asia and Phillips’ unique combination of art and design in their Hong Kong sales.

Which works are collectors from Southeast Asia currently showing keen interest in?
We showed a variety of international 20th century and contemporary art at our Singapore Preview and have had great feedback since. Collectors are excited about the wide selection of works that we are offering.

This time we have a very rare, early work from the 1930s from Singaporean pioneer artist, Liu Kang, which boasts a provenance from the artist’s family. There have only been very few works from the 1930s to come out at auction in the last decades, and this has definitely caught the attention of collectors from the region.

We also have contemporary works by Thai and Filipino artists such as Natee Utarit, Marina Cruz-Garcia, Rodel Tapaya, Maria Taniguchi, as well as Vietnamese modern artworks by Mai Trung Thu. These are all carefully curated and selected and represent some of the most sought after names in Southeast Asian art, suited to the collecting tastes of seasoned and new collectors alike.

Tomoo Gokita, 'Embrace', 2017, acrylic gouache on canvas, 194 x 194cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Tomoo Gokita, 'Embrace', 2017, acrylic gouache on canvas, 194 x 194cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Are there artists whose works are in auction for the first time (anywhere or at Phillips) in these sales? Are there any special works/curated sections that bidders should take note of?
Yes, the Dana Schutz is offered at auction for the first time in Asia. As we have a growing number of Asian collectors interested in a new generation of American artists, and with the work coming from a private collection in Asia, it made sense to keep it here at auction.

We have a strong section dedicated to Tomoo Gokita exploring his different techniques and styles: drawing, sculptures (offered for the first time at auction) and paintings from different periods.

This season, we are also proud to offer three works from Zao Wou-ki covering four decades of creation, from 1955 and his definitive shift to abstraction (the oracle bones period) to the 1970s gestural works inspired by his return to the ink medium and the boundless creativity he experienced in the 2000s.

We will also be offering property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman collection, which is an extraordinary collection that incorporates the very best examples across a breadth of artistic movements.

Zao Wou-Ki, 'Ailleurs', 1955, oil on canvas, 130 x 97cm. Image © Zao Wou-Ki - ProLitteris, Zurich.

Zao Wou-Ki, 'Ailleurs', 1955, oil on canvas, 130 x 97cm. Image © Zao Wou-Ki - ProLitteris, Zurich.

What have you observed to be new and continuing collecting trends in Southeast Asia in the recent couple of years?
Collectors in Southeast Asia are becoming increasingly interested in art from around the world. Those who typically only collected works by Southeast Asian artists are looking at international 20th Century and Contemporary art. We have also seen that our curated group of art and design from across Asia, America and Europe have a strong appeal with the younger generation of collectors who often have artists such as KAWS, Tomoo Gokita, Banksy, George Condo, Yoshitomo Nara and Takashi Murakami on their radar.

Left to Right: Tomoo Gokita, 'A Bathing Beauty', 2015, bronze with black patina, 28 x 22 x 7cm. Tomoo Gokita, 'A bathing beauty', 2015, bronze with white patina, 28 x 22 x 7cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Left to Right: Tomoo Gokita, 'A Bathing Beauty', 2015, bronze with black patina, 28 x 22 x 7cm. Tomoo Gokita, 'A bathing beauty', 2015, bronze with white patina, 28 x 22 x 7cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

The sales combine art with design. Why does it make sense for them to be put together, and how do collectors typically approach the sales? Have you had collectors who were primarily interested in design express interest in the artworks and vice versa?
This dynamic pairing of art and design is relevant to today’s collector. Having design works incorporated in our sale encourages the concept of “living with art”, and helps collectors better visualise what their homes would look like if they acquired a work or two. We have definitely seen the appreciation and demand for important Danish design objects strengthening in the region, with collectors increasingly making acquisitions across the different categories.

This season, Phillips will partner with Hong Kong-based interior designer Alfred Lam for a unique project “Pantone 561 by Alfred Lam”. Lam is the founder of Studio 1618, and is an award-winning interior designer behind some of the most sophisticated residential and retail spaces in the city. He will be given a dedicated area at Phillips’ Hong Kong preview at the JW Marriott, to curate a selection of furniture and art pieces from the Day Sale, matching the space painted in a pantone colour of his choice. The unique and visually stunning curated space will display Lam’s vision and show visitors how art and design can complement each other in an interior.

Finn Juhl, 'Pair of Armchairs', model no. FJ 45, designed 1945 and produced circa 1955 by Niels Vodder, Bangkok teak, fabric, leather, each 83.5 x 69.5 x 78cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Finn Juhl, 'Pair of Armchairs', model no. FJ 45, designed 1945 and produced circa 1955 by Niels Vodder, Bangkok teak, fabric, leather, each 83.5 x 69.5 x 78cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

How do you see Phillips growing in the regional art market?
A major priority for us has been to strengthen our presence in Asia and build relationships with collectors across the region.

Phillips is an auction house that understands the changing scope of collecting art in the 21st century. With our dedication to contemporary art and digital innovation, we select artists who are truly innovative and sought after in the region. One such example would be when we offered teamLab’s ‘Universe of Water Particles’ (2013) in 2017, which was the first time that a digital artwork by the artist collective was offered on the international auction market. There was very strong bidding activity for the work and it eventually sold for 3 times its low estimate.

Our tightly curated offering of international 20th Century and Contemporary art and important design works sets us apart, and we hope to have more engaging experiences for our established and new collectors.

Phillips showed artworks for the first time in an art fair in Asia at Art Moments in Jakarta last weekend. How was it received?
Last weekend in Jakarta was very exciting for us, as it was the first time that we were exhibiting international artworks at an art fair. The reception was extremely welcoming, with visitors being absolutely thrilled to see works by Banksy, Damien Hirst and KAWS. We plan to work very closely with our global teams and specialist departments to deliver exceptional service and engagement opportunities to the discerning collectors in Indonesia.

For more information, please visit Phillips.