Beijing painter Yue Minjun, one of the top- selling contemporary artists in the commercial market, whose works have sold for as much as USD 7 million, is the most instantly-recognized Chinese painter today. His images of laughing men -- all likenesses of himself -- cracking up uncontrollably in diverse sombre backgrounds, can be seen all over the world. Italians call it the “Berlusconi Smile”.
His 2011 self-portrait, a drawing entitled “Good Luck in the Year of the Rabbit” will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on Monday, October 3, 2011 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center with proceeds going to the Asian Cultural Council, a non-profit which sets up educational programs abroad for Asian artists www.asianculturalcouncil.org.hk
In May of this year Yue Minjun created this artwork for the Asian Cultural Council in support of an interactive piece which Amy Cheung, one of Hong Kong’s leading artists, presented at the ACC’s booth at the ART HK 11 Hong Kong international art fair. Through her sculptural installation “Chance Machine”, Cheung sought to level the playing field in the world of art collecting by making it possible for people of all walks of life to win and own works of art, regardless of their economic means.
“I wanted to align my project with a financially valuable superstar”, explained Cheung. “And Yue Minjun was very gracious in accepting my proposition to challenge the “price tag” establishment within an art fair context”.
Yue Minjun’s rabbit-man portrait was presented as the jackpot prize with chances selling for HKD 20, the price of a cup of coffee. Yet during the four-day fair, the rabbit-man managed to escape the attempts of more than 700 ticket buyers, and will appear again at Sotheby’s with a reserve price of HKD 40,000.
Amy Cheung is satisfied that she got her message across nonetheless and hopes that auction goers will see the auction as a way to support the Asian Cultural Council and give a “Chance” to another artist for a transformative trip abroad.
“The ACC has given me the thrill of having a golden chance”, and I want to share this with others, said Cheung, who began her year-long Asian Cultural Council program in New York in the middle of September.
Sotheby's Contemporary Asian Art auction will take place at 6 pm, Monday October 3rd, 2011 at Hall 3 of the HKCEC. An exhibition of the auction items will begin on Saturday, 1st of October. More details on the exhibition, auction and buying are available here.