Chinese art is generating more international interest than ever before, with unprecedented crowds of foreigners packing into a series of Beijing auctions which ended on Tuesday. Foreign buyers showed most interest in Chinese oil paintings which are becoming increasingly familiar at art fairs in New York and London.
At the Beijing Poly Art Auction Co Ltd's Sunday sale, 270 oil paintings were sold for a total of 145 million yuan (US$18.1 million), setting a new record for the total price achieved at an oil painting auction on the Chinese mainland.
"There were dozens of foreigners in the sales room," said marketing director Ma Zhefei. "Previously I have only ever seen a few of them." The highest price paid by a foreign collector was 7.48 million yuan (US$935,000) for "Red Lotus," an oil painting by 86-year-old Wu Guanzhong. It was exceeded only by "Bathing," an oil painting by Xu Beihong (1895-1953), which was sold to a mainland collector for 9.9 million yuan (US$1.23 million). Works by cutting-edge Chinese artists such as Wang Guangyi and Zhang Xiaogang are the favourites of foreign buyers, according to Ma. "Memories and Lost Memories No 5," an oil painting by Zhang, was sold to a foreigner for 1.54 million yuan (US$192,500).
"Works by cutting-edge Chinese artists are very popular in the West at present, but not that much in their homeland," said Ma. "There is a wide gap between their prices in Beijing and those in New York. Perhaps that's why foreigners are getting so interested in buying their work here." For example a portrait of a young man by Zhang sold for nearly US$1 million in March at Sotheby's first-ever New York auction of contemporary Chinese art.
Source: China Daily