Flowery Murakami sculpture to adorn Asia art auction

Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:48am EDT
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - A huge, whimsical floral sculpture by Japan's Takashi Murakami is set to steal the show at Sotheby's Hong Kong auction of modern Asian art in a region apparently unfazed by the global economic slowdown.

The October 4 sale is Sotheby's first of a series of five in Hong Kong, the world's third largest art auction market after New York and London, where more than 570 works from all over Asia, valued at a minimum of $69 million, will go under the hammer.

"The Asian contemporary art market is still going strong," Chin Yeow Quek, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia, told Reuters during a preview of the sales in Singapore.

"The business is so global now that people from all over the world are looking for a place to park their money during this global slowdown and the art market has so far proven resilient."

Quek said China's newly rich art acquirers were still major buyers of regional, and especially Chinese art, while Indonesian and Indian paintings were also proving very attractive.

Murakami's 4 meter by 3 meter (13 feet by 10 feet) "Flower Matango", tagged at $3 million, is the first work by this significant contemporary artist to be auctioned in Asia, said Evelyn Lin, head of Sotheby's contemporary Asian art department.

"Murakami has a very strong market in Europe and the United States, but this is his first work in Asia, which is a testament to the strength of the market here," she added.

Other highlights of the sale include a signature "Bloodline: The Big Family" work by Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang as well as works by record-breaking cynical Realist artist Yue Minjun and the comic-book style, sarcastic paintings of Indonesia's Nyoman Masriadi, including one that features a Batman and a Superman.   Continued...