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5 must-see works by leading contemporary artists heading to Poly Auction 10th anniversary sales this July

In a market dominated by auction houses that have been in business for centuries, Poly Auction Hong Kong has made quite a splash since it was founded ten years ago. The young firm’s subsidiary, Beijing Poly International Auction, is now the largest auction house in China, with the highest volume of Chinese art auction transactions globally.

Poly’s influence extends far beyond China and in recent years the house has forged unique partnerships with its Western counterparts, including Philips and Artnet Auctions. It has found considerable success in introducing Asian collectors to Western contemporary artists, as well as the other way around. Despite the financial and commercial turmoil of recent years, Poly Auction Hong Kong ended 2021 with a staggering HK $ 2.6 billion in revenue.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Poly Auctions is hosting a week of high-profile auctions, including modern and contemporary evening And day sales (12 and 13 July respectively), with a series of coveted works by trendy artists.

Ahead of the auctions, we’ve selected five works for Poly Auction’s evening sale of modern and contemporary art that you shouldn’t miss. Check out our picks below.

Xi Nanxing
The first round with a whip # 2 (The Wave # 2) (2008)
Estimate: HK $ 3,500,000–5,500,000

Xie Nanxing, The First Round with a Whip No.2 (The Wave No.2) (2008).  Courtesy of Poly Auctions.

Xie Nanxing, The first round with a whip # 2 (The Wave # 2) (2008). Courtesy of Poly Auction Hong Kong.

With his progressive vision, Xie Nanxing has become one of the most significant Chinese artists in the field of contemporaneity. Born in Chongqing in 1970, the artist first attracted attention at the age of 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, where he exhibited a series of distinctive portraits. The first round with a whip # 2 (The Wave # 2), created in 2008, marks a clear departure from his works of the 1990s and early 2000s.

The painting is part of a series consisting of three works, entitled n.1, n.2And Number 3 respectively, which were exhibited in his solo show “BIG SHOW” at Galerie Urs Meile in Beijing the same year they were painted. In these works, the artist intended to explore the idea of ​​the “Freudian slip”, an unintended verbal or physical manifestation of subconscious feelings, as coined by the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud.

The works are intended to play a visual game of hiding and revealing the meaning, both from the viewers and from the artist himself. In The first round with a whip # 2 (The Wave # 2), a group of children is faintly depicted with their elongated figures wrapped in a blue halo. The mysterious image plunges us into a long and dizzying game of glances.

Huang Yuxing
Red Cliff (
Estimate: HK $ 1,000,000–2,000,000

Huang Yuxing, The Red Cliff (2017).  Courtesy of Poly Auctions.

Huang Yuxing, red cliff (2017). Courtesy of Poly Auction Hong Kong.

One of the most prominent Chinese artists to emerge in the 1970s, Huang Yuxing is known for his fantastical fictional worlds, from futuristic cityscapes to natural wonders, made with blocks of jewel-like neon color. red cliff is a quintessential example of the aesthetic that the artist defines, showing a river shining against richly structured mountains.

red cliff it also has strong cultural connotations: the ancient Battle of Red Cliff in the winter of 208 AD was a pivotal moment in the late Han dynasty, in which a smaller group of soldiers won a larger army.

One hundred years after the battle, the poet Su Shi visited Red Cliff, writing his famous verses First visit to the red cliff, which deepens the tensions between the beauty of illusion and the harshness of reality. In red cliffHuang Yuxing appears to respond to Su Shi’s jokes with a sense of eager contemplation and exuberant visual effects.

Adriano Gheni
Eye without lids (2016-18)
Estimate: HK $ 50,000,000–75,000,000

Adrian Ghenie, Eye without lids (2016–2018).

Adriano Gheni, Eye without lids (2016-2018). Courtesy of Poly Auction Hong Kong.

Born in Romania in the late 1970s, Adrian Ghenie gained wide acclaim for his expressive and visceral painting style. Eye without lids it is a self-portrait and stands out as one of the greatest depictions of the artist to have appeared on the market to date.

The painting is both a tribute to and inspired by Vincent van Gogh, whom Ghenie called one of his greatest creative influences and whom the artist regards as a spiritual mentor.

Ghenie’s painting from 2014 Sunflowers in 1937 is another obvious tribute to Van Gogh. men February 2016, the work sold for 2.65 million pounds, an auction record at the time for the artist.

Tomokazu Matsuyama
Hypothesis of the Hollow Moon (2014)
Estimate: HK $ 650,000–1,000,000

Tomokazu Matsuyama, The empty moon hypothesis (2014).  Courtesy of Poly Auctions.

Tomokazu Matsuyama, Hypothesis of the Hollow Moon (2014). Courtesy of Poly Auction Hong Kong.

Artist Tomokazu Matsuyama combines aspects of traditional Japanese painting with a strong sense of Western Expressionism in his work, and painting Hypothesis of the Hollow Moon is a great example of this. Distinctive elements of ukiyo-e are recognized here, in particular a resemblance to 19th-century artist Ogata Gekko’s portrait of the Japanese samurai, in terms of composition.

The figures of the young people on horseback, on the other hand, seem to have been taken from a guide by the American Boy Scouts. However, the two disparate references merge into something new and playful, the fighting spirit of the samurai and the cowboy, creating an imaginative cross-cultural tableau, characterized by bold colors and patterns.

Godwin Champs Namuyimba
Rise and shine (2021)
Estimate: HK $ 500,000–800,000

Godwin Champs Namuyimba, Rise and Shine (2021).  Courtesy of Poly Auctions.

Godwin Champs Namuyimba, Rise and shine (2021). Courtesy of Poly Auction Hong Kong.

Ugandan artist Godwin Champs Namuyimba (born 1989) centers his work around the people in his life, as a form of both personal introspection and ethnic identification. In the portrait Rise and shinethe background is filled with richly colored designs and motifs, many of which are symbols of African culture.

A black man is pictured sitting calmly cross-legged on a sofa, confidently looking at viewers, wearing an astronaut suit and with a helmet resting on the sofa next to him. This afrofuturistic symbolism often appears in the artist’s works, which place black figures at the center of conversations about human history.

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