Liu Kang Headlines Phillips May Sale

Mai Trung Thu, Tomoo Gokita and Eddie Martinez: lots on offer in Hong Kong
By A&M

Liu Kang, ‘West Lake’, 1933, oil on canvas, 75 x 61cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Liu Kang, ‘West Lake’, 1933, oil on canvas, 75 x 61cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Phillips will hold its 20th Century and Contemporary Art & Design Evening and Day Sales in Hong Kong on 26 May 2019, bringing together a diverse group of artworks from both blue-chip and emerging artists.

Among the highlights are sought-after works from Southeast Asian artists such as Liu Kang and Mai Trung Thu, popular Asian artists Zao Wou-Ki, Zhang Xiaogang and Tomoo Gokita, as well as representative Western artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, George Condo, KAWS and Banksy.

Last season, the category’s inaugural Day Sale saw a 100% sell-through rate of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary works. The team is looking to achieve the same this May with Singaporean artist Liu Kang’s fresh-to-market work “West Lake” (1933) as the star lot of the section, carrying an estimate of HKD250,000 to HKD300,000.

“We are delighted to present an array of works by Southeast Asian artists in our upcoming auction, and especially honoured to be offering a painting by the Singaporean master Liu Kang,” says Isaure de Viel Castel, Senior Director and Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong. “It is the first painting coming from the personal collection of Liu’s family, and one of the very rare works from the 1930s by the artist to come to the auction.”

Following his studies in Paris, Liu began teaching Western painting at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. The painting is of the famed West Lake in Hangzhou, completed on a sketching trip he took with students in his first year at the school.

The work demonstrates the artist’s influences and intentions. International Specialist, Associate Director, 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sandy Ma writes in the catalogue essay that it “converges the colourful liveliness of the Paris school, chiaroscuro and linear perspective techniques of traditional European academic painting, and the dark outlines that recalls Chinese ink painting”.

Mai Trung Thu, 'La Rose Rouge (J. femme à l'écharpe)', 1959, colour on silk laid down on cardboard, 45 x 32cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Mai Trung Thu, 'La Rose Rouge (J. femme à l'écharpe)', 1959, colour on silk laid down on cardboard, 45 x 32cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Collectors of first-generation modern Vietnamese artists can look forward to two ink and gouache silk portraits by Mai Trung Thu, who graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine in Hanoi under Victor Tardieu, along with classmates Nguyen Phan Chanh and Le Pho.

Mai Trung Thu, ‘Two Boys Playing the Flute’, 1959, colour on silk laid down on cardboard, 17 x 23cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Mai Trung Thu, ‘Two Boys Playing the Flute’, 1959, colour on silk laid down on cardboard, 17 x 23cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Painted during his nearly four-decade stay in Paris, the works are typical of the artist’s serene portraits of women and children from his nostalgic vision of Vietnam. ‘La Rose Rouge (J. femme à l’écharpe)’ (1959) features a woman in a diaphanous veil that floats lightly over her shoulders. She stands with her hand placed on a side table decorated with a single rose in a slender vase. In ‘Two Boys Playing the Flute’ (1959), the subjects sit outdoors, one cross-legged and the other with his knees folded, their dexterous fingers dancing across the flute. Both works were executed in 1959, with estimates of HKD220,000 to HKD320,000 and HKD100,000 to HKD150,000 respectively.

Works by contemporary Southeast Asian artists Marina Cruz-Garcia, Rodel Tapaya, Maria Taniguchi, Natee Utarit will also be available.

Tomoo Gokita, ‘Where is the Love’, 2014, acrylic gouache on linen, 80.3 x 64.7cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Tomoo Gokita, ‘Where is the Love’, 2014, acrylic gouache on linen, 80.3 x 64.7cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

For other contemporary highlights, Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita’s ‘Where is the Love’ (2014) is available at an estimate of HKD600,000 to HKD800,000. Rendered in the artist’s signature palette of whites, blacks and greys, a portrait of a woman fusing abstraction and figuration will be unveiled. Phillips has had great success with the artist, achieving six of the top 10 prices for Gokita pieces at auction. “We are very excited to offer seven works by Tomoo Gokita this season, representing different phases and medium in his career,” says Viel Castel.

Eddie Martinez, 'Untitled', 2012, oil, enamel and spray paint on canvas, 182.9 x 152.4 cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Eddie Martinez, 'Untitled', 2012, oil, enamel and spray paint on canvas, 182.9 x 152.4 cm. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Western artists will be represented alongside Asian artists in the sale, with both modern and contemporary artworks on offer. A highlight is Eddie Martinez’s ‘Untitled’ (2012), with an estimate of HKD700,000 to HKD900,000. The American artist, whose style has been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston, combines energetic scrawls, bug-eyed figures and intensely-coloured abstract free forms to create canvases that pulsate with energy.

These highlights are part of a selection of works that will be on view in Singapore this weekend, 27 to 28 April 2019, at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.

The Singapore Preview of Phillips’ 20th Century and Contemporary Art & Design Evening and Day Sales Hong Kong will take place from 27 to 28 April at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Garden Pavilion, 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799, from 11am to 6pm.

The Hong Kong Preview will take place from 23 to 25 May at JW Marriott, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, from 11am to 6pm.