We’re now midway into March and Covid-19 shows little signs of letting up around the world. To help relief efforts, Sotheby’s has announced that they will auction three works by Asian artists, with each of the artworks’ proceeds going toward different beneficiaries in the areas that are hardest hit by the pandemic.
The Modern Art Evening Sale will take place in New York in April 16, but if you want to view the three works before they go under the hammer, you can see them in person in Hong Kong on March 27 and 28, and in New York from April 13 to 15.
The standout lot is undoubtedly Pang Jiun’s Monet’s Garden, which is estimated to fetch up to US$500,000. The oil on canvas diptych was painted in 2009 by the landscape artist, whose oil paintings encapsulate his distinctly Chinese aesthetic, inspired as they are by traditional brushstrokes and ink paint.
Pang — who was born into a family of creatives (his father was an alumnus of Paris’ prestigious École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts and his mother was said to be part of China’s first generation of female artists) — has spoken much about how his works reflect the artistic traditions and culture of his nation.
As he says, his artworks aim to capture “the profound depths of reserved emotion in the Chinese people”, a quality evident in the quiet, but complex, Monet’s Garden.
A portion of the hammer price for Monet’s Garden will support coronavirus-related research in The University of Hong Kong’s LKS Faculty of Medicine.
Also up for auction is Chu Teh-Chun’s La Lune (1998), whose full hammer price will be donated to Han Hong Love Charity Foundation’s relief project in Wuhan itself. It’s projected to fetch between US$38,000 to US$75,000 and is offered without reserve.
The late Chu, who was dubbed one of three ‘Musketeers’ of Chinese modernist art, was acclaimed for his unique style that integrated traditional Chinese techniques with the abstract movement from the West. In 1955, he emigrated to Paris, and found great success with his bold strokes that evoked Chinese calligraphy — as is evident in La Lune. An oil on canvas portrait of his wife even won the silver medal at the famed Paris Salon just a year after he moved to France; it was also Chu’s wife, Tung Ching-Chao, who donated La Lune for the charity auction.
The last piece going under the hammer is Sophie Chang’s aptly named Source of Hope (2019). After returning to Taiwan from the United States in the 1980s, Chang turned to Buddhism in search of peace and a sense of belonging. Her years of meditation have granted her works a spiritual-like quality — not least because of her self-made technique of magnanimous brushstrokes and blocks of colour that appear to be in dynamic motion.
“No matter how tough life is, there will also be blissful moments,” she said. “These moments are the food for the soul.”
The full hammer price will go to Taiwan Centres for Disease Control in support of frontline medical professionals, providing them with essential supplies to combat the disease. Source of Hope is projected to fetch an estimated US$50,000 to US$100,000 at the auction, and like La Lune, is offered without reserve.
For more information on the works and the charity auction, visit Sotheby’s website here.