First published in the Print and Digital editions of The Art Newspaper, May 2011 issue.

SINGAPORE. Grayground, 2011, by Filipino artist Ronald Ventura,made HK$8.4m ($1.1m) at Sotheby’s 4 April auction in Hong Kong, becoming the most expensive contemporary work of art ever sold in a Southeast Asian sale (this category is distinct from Chinese auctions). This is a marked departure from the norm as previous significant auction records were mostly broken by artists of Indonesian origin—not a surprise for a market that is 70% dominated by Indonesian art. The first and last time $1m was paid for a contemporary work by a Southeast Asian artist was in October 2008 in Hong Kong, for The Man from Bantul (The Final Round), 2000, by Indonesian artist Nyoman Masriadi. Works by Ventura, and 15 other contemporary Filipino artists (including Nona Garcia, Rodel Tapaya and newer auction additions Andres Barrioquinto and Jon Jaylo) went on to contribute to nearly 10% of the auction total (HK$108m/$13.8m) during the sale, the strongest showing by Filipino contemporary artists thus far in any Southeast Asian auction. The decision to increase contributions from the Filipino segment from 7% three years ago to the 17% today was a bold move on the part of Sotheby’s, in a market traditionally saturated with Indonesian collectors. But Filipino contemporary art has been increasingly presented in international and regional exhibitions and art fairs including Scope Basel, Scope Miami, Art Stage Singapore, Hong Kong Art Fair and India Art Summit, and championed by galleries such as The Drawing Room, attracting many new buyers from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Copyright © 2011 Patricia Chen. All rights reserved. No part of this writing may be reprinted, reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including printing, recording or information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission in writing from the author.

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