The 60x72cm painting belonged to art collector Pham Van Thong, who purchased it at Christie’s Asia. Its initial auction price was US$ 41,000, also a record for a domestic auction event.
Works by artist Nguyen Trong Kiem were also sold at high prices at the event, including Duong lang (US$ 12,000), Mai chua Huong (US$ 12,000) and Pho mua (US$ 10,000).
According to information on Chon’s Auction House’s official Facebook page, the total value of paintings by artist Nguyen Sang being internationally traded witnessed an increase and their average price also went up dramatically in 2016. They have received high evaluation from international collectors and specialists, leading to a dramatic increase in the demand in recent years.
Nguyen Sang (1923-1988) ranks among the four most influential painters in 20th century Vietnam, along with Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988), Duong Bich Lien (1924-1988) and Nguyen Tu Nghiem (1922-2016). Sang was most successful with lacquer paintings, presenting an ingenious manipulation of the craft’s traditional methods to produce a modern twist on the ancient art form.
"Two cats" was a breakthrough in Sang’s career, considered the most influential among his later works. The painting conceals many layers of meaning while imbibing the spirit of the East. In the painting, the two cats, in the position of tigers, stand against each other and form a closed circle. In contrast to the smooth aesthetic effect that other ornamental lacquer painters strive to achieve with their work, Sang breaks the rules of what is expected from lacquer art, and instead presents a highly textured, expressive view of the artist’s creative eye and imaginative world.