Triptych by Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang sets record

Forever Lasting Love by Zhang Xiaogang Forever Lasting Love broke the previous Chinese contemporary art record set by a Zeng Fanzhi work in 2008

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A three-panel oil painting by artist Zhang Xiaogang has sold for 79m Hong Kong dollars (£6.3m) - a record auction price for Chinese contemporary art.

The 1988 work, Forever Lasting Love, shows half-naked figures in an arid landscape surrounded by symbols, among them an emaciated ram.

It was one of 105 artworks sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong by Belgian collector Baron Guy Ullens.

They fetched HK$427m (£34m), more than three times than had been expected.

Forever Lasting Love broke the previous Chinese contemporary art record of HK$75m (£6m).

That was set by Zeng Fanzhi's canvas Mask Series 1996 No 6, auctioned in Hong Kong in 2008.

'Entire spectrum'

Evelyn Lin, Sotheby's head of contemporary Asian art, said Forever Lasting Love was "a monumental museum-quality work from a defining period of the Chinese avant-garde".

The auction set records for other Chinese artists including Zhang Peili - whose Series "X?" No 3 sold for HK$23m (£1.8m) - and Geng Jianyi, whose Two People Under a Light fetched HK$18.6m (£1.5m).

Kevin Ching, chief executive of Sotheby's Asia, said the works on sale represented "the entire spectrum of contemporary Chinese art".

"I think everyone would be proud to be able to own a piece of that history, that process and a part of that vision," he added.

Baron Ullens, who with wife Myriam set up Beijing's Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Ucca), said the sale did not mean he had abandoned his support for the Chinese movement.

Ucca said in a statement that the baron's dream was to support and promote a younger generation of artists.

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