Singapore artwork sells for S$4.4m at Beijing auction

November 30, 2014 – Singapore artist Tan Swie Hian has broken a record he set two years ago as the most expensive living artist in Southeast Asia. His artwork, called the Portrait of Bada Shanren, was sold for 18 million yuan at an auction in Beijing.

Including commission charges and taxes, that brings the total to 20.7 million yuan, or about S$4.4 million. It’s higher than the S$3.7 million his previous artwork received at the same auction in 2012.

Mr Tan had created the large-scale portrait of Bada Shanren, a Ming and Qing Dynasty artist, in just a minute. He also composed a lengthy inscription to accompany the minimalist portrait.

Mr Tan said the recognition given to his work by collectors inspires him to work harder. He said: “For someone who has devoted single-mindedly all his life to artistic creations, the result of the auction is heartening and I’m certainly pleased that I have broken my previous record.”

“The record itself also registers a message from my very supportive Chinese collectors that I have to continue working hard. At the artistic level, it feels as if I have one of my works selected for a very important group exhibition – showing the piece alongside the works of China’s most celebrated contemporary ink-painters and the piece happens to be also loved and appreciated by Chinese collectors. This is a great learning experience and I feel blessed and honoured,” he added.

Modern and Contemporary Art Consultant at Beijing Poly Auction Guo Yuanchao said: “Based on today’s and his previous showing in 2012, it shows that Chinese art collectors have noticed his achievements, as he is the only Chinese member-correspondent of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France, which is very prestigious. So I’m optimistic about his future showings.”

On Monday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong also congratulated the artist.

Mr Wong wrote on his Facebook page: “Congrats to Cultural Medallion artist Tan Swie Hian, whose artwork Portrait of Bada Shenren was recently sold at an auction for a record prize of S$4.4 million! Proud that Singapore artists like Swie Hian are making their mark internationally, and their works are being recognised and embraced by collectors around the world.”