INTENSE FIGHT OVER ASIAN ART: IT IS GOOD TIME TO BUY ART
Demand and sales for Asian art remains strong, modest prices added pull for buyers
- Record attendance at ‘Pictures of Asia’ auction, with 300 bidders and art aficionados, Larasati’s 13th auction netted S$1.62 million in sales for 70% of lots
- Highlight of the auction belonged to Indonesian Hendra Gunawan’s “Fish Vendor” which saw highly contested bids and a price exceeding its starting bid by about S$150,000
- Rising popularity of Singaporean artworks on show, including Singapore artist Andre Tan’s “Talk of Heroes” auctioning off at close to twice its estimate and Indonesian comical artworks sold out
Singapore, March 23 2009 – It certainly did not feel like recession time at Larasati’s 13th Singapore auction held yesterday at the Tanjong Pagar Distripark, widely regarded as an upcoming arts and lifestyle enclave. In spite of the uncertainty shrouding the economy, buyers’ spirits were not dampened as bidding drama was in the air with lots by budding, unknown Asian artists and established masters attracting numerous offers, making Larasati’s thirteenth auction one of its most exciting and competitive to date. The auction also recorded an all-time high attendance of 300 bidders and art enthusiasts and netted S$1.62 million in sales (including premium), with 70% of the 165 lots auctioned were sold, including works by up-and-coming Singapore artists.
On the good showing and results of the auction, Daniel Komala, CEO of Larasati Auctioneers, said, “This sale certainly proves that this is a good time, if not the best time to buy and invest in art as prices are nearing and for some, has hit rock-bottom. In spite of the downturn, many of our lots did reasonably well and about 70% of our lots were sold. The modestly-priced boutique collection of quality works, which we offered to bidders, was snapped up, reflecting our commitment to meet the needs and wants of buyers and instil confidence in the market in these times.”
Mr Komala elaborated, “With prices down up to 40 per cent from the market highs of 2008, more new buyers are entering the market. We see many new faces as well as experienced collectors at this March sale. Experienced art buyers also took this chance to expand and sharpen their collection with refreshing works by emerging artists and works with substance by established masters at very fair prices, like Hendra Gunawan’s colourful Fish Vendor which created quite a stir at the auction hall as bidders competed for the most expensive lot of the day which hammered off at close to S$300,000. ”
To provide collectors and art lovers a unique preview and auction experience, Larasati held its first sale of 2009 at the burgeoning arts venue, Tanjong Pagar Distripark. The art warehouse was converted into an art fair venue, with spacious white walls similar to a Manhatten art loft experience. Art talks were also held prior to the auction to bring together speakers from the art community with diverse viewpoints and gave collectors a rare opportunity to interact with art critic, curator, gallery owner and artist and ask questions related to art appreciation.
Sameer Aurora, an avid collector who picked up a couple of works by emerging artists including “Guitar Girl” by Indonesian artist Terra Bajraghosa, found the art talk especially productive, “This was a good platform to talk to some of the field’s experts and get their opinion on emerging trends in Indonesian contemporary art, the underlying social factors, and appreciate the thoughts and inspirations behind comic art.”
Indonesian Modern and Contemporary Art proved to be the most popular among bidders, with several lots facing stiff competition among buyers and attracting decent bids. True to Larasati’s forte at identifying the art icons of tomorrow, emerging preferences and art trends, almost all artworks in the comical category, which Larasati predicted would do well, went successfully under the hammer. It was also a good day for Singapore art as 80% of the lots on offer were taken, with promising Singapore artist, Andre Tan achieving a record price of almost twice above estimate for his work, “Talk of Heroes”.
“As predicted, comical, humorous art is the next big thing! Amidst the financial market’s doom and gloom, people are going for the lighter side of life. Jackson Hong’s “Bowl in Case of Emergency”, or the incredibly colourful “Indonesian Army” by Beatrix Hendriani Kaswara are examples of good art, which is both fun and thought-provoking and experienced some fierce competition from our bidders. At the same time, we are very heartened to see Singapore artists doing well at our auction. We were the first auction house to profile Andre Tan’s works to an international audience and we are very happy that he did well in this auction,” added Mr Komala.
The 165-lot auction featured a diverse range of works spanning classical to comical themes by Asian and Southeast Asian emerging and established artists from countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. ‘Star’ performers included: J. Aradithya Pramuhenra’s “Lost in Journey”, a collection of four charcoal drawings, four figurines and a video, which commanded S$15,000, 198% above estimate
- Arie Smit’s “In front of the Temple” was highly sought after, going through several rounds of counter-offers before closing at S$15,600, 195% higher than the estimate
- Isur Suroso’s “Everybody Wants to Let Loose” went under the hammer for S$8,600, more than two times its estimate
- Another highly contended piece was Bob “Sick” Yudhita Agung’s “I’m Married (The Great Marriage)” which fetched S$3,600, 240% above its estimate
(All prices include premium)
Following close on the heels of the Singapore auction is the Asian Auction Week in Hong Kong, scheduled for Friday, 15 May from 5pm to 8pm (preview is on 14 May, 12pm to 8pm and 15 May, 10am to 3pm), at the Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong, where Larasati will partner with other leading Asian auction houses, to offer another quality boutique collection of Eastern and Western Contemporary Art, to cater to the Hong Kong art market.