NO BRAKES ON ART

Asian auction house Larasati is not fazed by the economic downturn, showcasing more than 200 works of art today.

This smashed up beauty may look familiar. That's because it is a life-size replica of a Formula One race car. You can get close to it but do not think of driving off - it is actually a stainless steel sculpture.

A creation of Bali-based sculpture Pintor Sirait, this work, titled Victory, weighs 25o kg and is one of the highlights of Asian auction house Larasati's auction today at Raffles Hotel where more than 200 works will be shown. It is expected to sell for more than $45,000

The 46-year-old artist says that while he is no fan of F1 racing, he has been intrigued by the culture of the sport.

He tells Life!: "As an artist I am interested in exploring why Asian absorb everything from the West. F1 creates and recreates heroes all the time. For me the big question is - where are the Asian heroes? These are some of the issues I try to explore through my work."

He adds: "By using an icon like F1, I am questioning what is important to us. Art-making is about thingking and making people think and respond to the world."

Asian auction house Larasati focuses on cutting-edge art that pushes boundaries and raises questions.

Set up in 2000, it has been holding twice-yearly auctions in Singapore since 2003. At its first auction in May 2003, Larasati netted $2.2 million in sales. In 2004, that rose to $4.9 million and in 2007, it was $5.2 million.

Despite the current financial turmoil in the world, Larasati chief executive officer Daniel Komala, who is in his 40s, remains confident that people will continue to look for good art. He says: "The financial meltdown will affect every single sector, including the arts. But people will also start to look for new treasures and new investments. In the long run, art works have more upside than downside."

Some treasures to look out for the current auction include works by renowned masters such as Indonesian Hendra Gunawan and contemporary artists such as I Nyoman Masriadi.

Masriadi's acrylic-on-canvas The Target has an estimated price of $100,000 to $150,000, though given the recent success of the artist's work at a Sotheby's Hong Kong sale, this work could exceed that. The artist's sarcastic, comic-book style painting Sorry Hero, I Forgot - of a Batman sitting on adjacent toilets - fetched HK$4.82 million ($921,000), while his triptych (2000) of bloodied boxers, The Man From Bantul (The Final Round), sold for HK$7.8 million.

Another artist to look out for is Korea's Lee Yong-Deok whose work, Standing 0701, has an estimated price of $100,000 to $130,000. Korean artists in particular have had a good run at Larasati auctions. Last October, Yi Hwan-Kwon's sculpture, Windy Day, sold for $65,000, a record sum for the artist.

Mr. Komala feels that the works of today's Korean contemporary artists evoke a "certain global familiarity". He adds: "They are producing high-quality works of art centred on themes that have a global appeal."                    

- deepika shetty - deepikas@sph.com.sg -

 
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