COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Luxury Arts from Southeast Asia
An illustration to the Ramayana Mewar, circa 1710. Courtesy of Bonhams.

An illustration to the Ramayana Mewar, circa 1710. Courtesy of Bonhams.

As Asia Week New York just kicked off, fervor for the numerous works exhibited at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams is rising. Auctions are scheduled for the upcoming week. A collaboration among auction houses, independent dealers and major cultural institutions, such as Asia Society, Japan Society, Rubin Museum of Art etc., Asia Week aims at celebrating and promoting Asian art during the course of a week in New York. Curators, historians, educators, and most importantly collectors flock in for a week packed with events that affirm the importance of Asian art in the global cultural scene.

According to Bloomberg, the Southeast Asian region represents one of the fastest growing emerging economies. The region’s vigor stems from its young population and expanding domestic markets. The area is becoming a destination for several Western investors. As Asia Week reveals, present day local economies  (such as Thailand, Singapore, or Indonesia, to name a few) have flourished consistently through history and peaked between the 15th and early 19th Century, a period that has furnished most of the treasures that will be auctioned off during the week–one finds a large number of antiquities exhibited as well.

Similar to the rest of Asia, the Southeast Asian region is characterized by a heightened aesthetic and a sophisticated taste for precious jewels and rare materials most of which found their way into the art works currently on view during Asia Week. This unique heritage, in combination with the region’s increasing wealth, makes that part of the world ripe for consumption of Western luxury. It is also ideal for the genesis of local high-end brands and production of artisanal luxury goods. It would be great to see contemporary Southeast Asian luxury flowing from the East to the West, an opportunity that China seems to have missed.

© Thomaï Serdari