Indonesian artist's $6 million work on Bali life sets new record at Christie's

Indonesian artist's $6 million work on Bali life sets new record at Christie's

SINGAPORE - The late Indonesian artist Lee Man Fong set a new record for a Southeast Asia artwork when his oil painting sold for HK$35.96 million (S$6 million) at an auction hosted by Christie's.

The auction held in Hong Kong in November saw his art piece entitled Bali Life sold to an Asian buyer. Christie's reported that the sale had set a new world record for an Southeast Asia art sold at an auction.

The late Lee Man Fong was born in Guangzhou, China and moved to Singapore at the age of three. He spent most of adult life in Indonesia and before returning to Singapore.

He was trained in Western art but was influenced by the culturally diverse region of Southeast Asia.

The dark earthy-tones in his works is also a feature of his influence from the Dutch perspective, as the late Lee pursued art studies in Holland after receiving a scholarship.

Even after his death in Singapore in 1988, his artistic legacy is still recognised for his combination of western art with the aesthetics of Oriental art, said Christie's.

His work Bali Life is said to express a 'longing and pursuit for perfection in another realm'. The art piece also shows his mastery of technique and his articulation of the multifaceted life in the Indonesian town of Bali.

The total sales for the evening of bidding for Lee's painting and three other art works came in at HK$1.28 billion (S$207 million).

Eric Chang, international director of Asian 20th century and contemporary art, said the four sales was the highest total ever at Christie's Hong Kong. Chang said that the high quality works by the 'most coveted Asian artists' were met with a 'positive and enthusiastic response', fueling the expansion of the platform for Asian art.

wjeanne@sph.com.sg

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