Sunday, 11 May 2008

Tales of Beauty and Derision

A fortnight ago an invitation arrived on my work desk. As per usual it was addressed to my predecessor but I go it anyway.

Usually these receive a cursory glance and are tossed in to the waste paper basket. However on this occassion the invite in question turned out to be to a screening of Christies auction items.

Christies no longer use Singapore as a base but they do hold satellite exhibitions to promote their Hong Kong auctions and this event was one of these - the Spring Auction to be held at the end of the month.

Equally intriguing was the location for this exhibition, the recently opened St Regis Hotel in Orchard Road. This is currently the grandest dame on the block and has more stars to recommend it than the Milky Way.

Officially launched in April, the St Regis received a lot of media publicity as the owner's wife personally involved herself in the selection and development of an eclectic art collection containing amongst others; original works by of Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Fernando Botero, Le Pho, Fernand Leger, Gu Gan, Chen Wen His and Georgette Chen.

We had a wander through the new hotel and took in the art works. There were some interesting sculptural works but personally I find Botero's creations just a little kitschy and plastic in execution. Give me the vigour of a good Rodin any day!

According to the St Regis web site one was meant to have a "Bespoke Experience" what ever that is? I suspect the shorts I was wearing was not the tailoring the staff had anticipated when they coined the phrase.

Then it was into the hotel's John Jacob Ballroom for the Christies viewing. The art was a fairly mixed bag as art auctions often are. Clearly some of the estimates were printed with a mind to attract the investment dollar. A contemporary Chinese painter, Yue Minjun, had a large work called Big Swans (pictured) with a $US1.2 - $US1.9 million price tag.

It was the small but exquisite collection of jewellery that was the most impressive. This included a 69 carat, yellow diamond and some flawless jade jewels in various settings.

After our auction viewing we re-boarded the bus following a quick dash to the opposite side of Orchard Road to do so. Having disembarked at Orchard Emerald we made our way to Robinsons department store who were in the midst of yet another of their sales.

On the return journey we passed the only drag queen I have yet seen in Singapore - a balding older man dressed in an ill-fitting frock and heels.

It probably would have helped if he could have afforded a wig, but alas this was not the case and he was given a wide berth by the more conservative Singaporean commuters.

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