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Singapore painter Aw Tee Hong’s artwork auctioned at $198,000

Painting of Singapore River sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong hits personal record for famed artist.

A painting of the Singapore River by Aw Tee Hong was sold for HK$1.125 million (S$198,000) at a Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction on Sunday – setting a personal record for the artist.

The untitled oil on canvas work by the 88-year-old Singapore artist came from a private collection in Singapore.

It went under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Modern & Contemporary South-east Asian Art Day Sale in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Aw, who is behind The River Merchants bronze sculpture in Raffles Place, uses a variety of media in his practice. He has captured fast-vanishing cityscapes in his work, bearing witness to Singapore’s transformation through the years.

He is not the only living Singapore artist to have set a new personal record in recent years.

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In 2017, an acrylic on canvas painting by artist Ong Kim Seng, titled Nepal, was sold for HK$725,000 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

Neither sale comes close, however, to Tan Swie Hian’s ink-on-rice-paper work Portrait Of Bada Shanren – which sold for 20.7 million yuan (S$4 million) at the 2014 Poly Auction in Beijing, breaking Tan’s earlier record for the most expensive work sold at an auction by a living South-east Asian artist.

(Related: Some of Tan Swie Hian’s greatest inspirations)

Sotheby’s head of South-east Asian Art, Mok Kim Chuan, says: “For the past few seasons, Singaporean artists have been gaining attention at our auctions. We are thrilled this piece achieved a new auction record for Aw at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, reflecting the market’s healthy appetite for good quality works from notable Singaporean artists.”

This article was originally published in The Straits Times.