In August, Phillips announced a partnership with China’s Poly Auction that would see the houses jointly staging their Asian 20th century art sales this fall. Now, Phillips has announced highlights for the upcoming auction series, which will take place in Hong Kong on December 3–4.
The joint series will offer works by a mix of Western and Asian artists, among them Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gerhard Richter, Chu Teh-Chun, Zao Wou-Ki, Yayoi Kusama, Christine Ay Tjoe, and Matthew Wong. Emerging artists like Lucas Arruda, Emily Mae Smith, Salman Toor, Titus Kaphar, and Derek Fordjour will make their Asian auction debuts through the series.
Among the top lots to be sold in the December 3 contemporary art evening sale are abstract works by leading postwar artists, a red and green Gerhard Richter abstraction from 1988 estimated at HKD 20 million–30 million ($2.6 million–$3.9 million). The small-scale Richter last sold at a Phillips London sale in July 2017 for £2.4 million ($3.2 million), and before that, it brought in $211,500 at a Sotheby’s London sale in February 2003. Recently, Richter has seen a solid run in the Asian art market; his Abstraktes Bild (649-2), from 1987, from the collection of Ron Perelman sold for $28 million at Sotheby’s this October to Japan’s Pola Museum of Art. The price was a new record for a Western artist at auction in the region.
Another highlight slated for the evening sale is Chu Teh-Chun’s green vertical abstraction titled Composition No. 65 (1960). It is estimated at HKD 15 million–20 million ($1.9 million–$2.3 million). Recent price milestones at auction have bolstered the market for works by the Chinese artist, whose estimates are rising steadily. The present work last came to market during a Christie’s Hong Kong contemporary art sale in May 2005, where it sold for HKD 1.8 million ($232,148).
According to Phillips, the partnership was conceived as a way for both houses to leverage their respective client bases and sales strategies in the region. “These auctions mark a notable stage in our trajectory of growth and underscore Phillips’ intentions to expand our presence further in the important Asia market,” said Jonathan Crockett, chairman of Phillips Asia branch, in a statement.
“This joint Fall Sales will combine our strengths and resources to offer collectors something new and meet the demands of an evolving art market,” added Alex Chang, managing director of Poly Auction in Hong Kong.
In the past decade, Poly has brought records for Zao Wou-Ki’s “Oracle” period, paintings by Wu Guanzhong, and installation works by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. The house made a collected HKD 1.7 billion ($219.3 million) in 2019.
Elsewhere in the Hong Kong contemporary art evening sale, Phillips and Poly have secured a line-up of in-demand newcomers. Wong, whose rapid ascent at auction continues following a new record price of $4.5 million set at Christie’s in October, will be represented in the evening sale. His 2018 canvas River at Dusk, featuring a landscape rendered in the late artist’s dream-like style, is expected to fetch a price between HKD 7 million–10 million ($9 million–$13 million).When Black and Red Could Hardly be a Circle (2013), an expressive red and brown abstract painting by Indonesian artist Christine Ay Tjoe that was first exhibited in 2014 at the opening of Shanghai-based Pearl Lam Gallery’s Singapore location, will be offered at an estimate of HKD 4 million–6 million ($5.2 million–7.7 million).
Group Dance (2012), a figurative painting by Toor, the subject of a soon-to-open exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York, is estimated at HKD 380,000–480,000 ($490,000–$620,000). Dust (2019), a painting by Emily Mae Smith, will also be offered in the sale; it is similar in style to one that made $358,129 during a Phillips London contemporary art evening sale this past October. Dust is estimated at HKD 200,000–300,000 ($258,000–$390,000).