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South East Asia is the new hot art market

A painting depicting a 1940s village scene of Indonesia under Dutch rule will be a star attraction at an auction where prices are expected to reflect growing interest in Southeast Asian art, experts say.
The piece, “Stand Guard For Our Motherland”, painted by Indonesian artist S. Sudjojono in 1965, is tipped to beat its estimate of up to $385,000 at the Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong on April 4, a spokesman for the auctioneers said.
Sudjojono’s “picture of patriotism” and 144 other contemporary and modern pieces by Southeast Asian artists are expected to rake in a total of more than $4.6 million.
“The Sudjojono piece is fresh to the market, has historical significance, artistic merits and great provenance,” Sotheby’s Southeast Asian Paintings department head Mok Kim-Chuan said.
Prices of Indonesian artworks have been rising since the mid-2000s. They can be sold for millions of dollars at auctions now, compared to only a few thousand in 1999.
Indonesia’s art is now considered as an emerging market.
“Bali Life” by Indonesian modern artist Lee Man Fong went for $3.24 million at Sotheby’s sale last year, making it the most expensive Southeast Asian artwork ever sold at auction.
Another piece “The Man From Bantul” by Indonesian contemporary artist I Nyoman Masriadi was sold for $1 million at a 2008 auction — five times more than the organisers had expected.
The 2008 global financial crisis hit the pockets of art collectors hard so they turned to Indonesia for cheaper but high-quality artwork.
Indonesia’s unique and diverse cultures, vibrant heritage and rich history have inspired the country’s talents to produce quality pieces, a leading Indonesian art collector Oei Hon Djien said.
They are sold at a fraction of the price commanded by Chinese artists, considered to be among the biggest players in the global art market, he said.

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