Phillips announces highlights from the London New Now Auction this April

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Phillips announces highlights from the London New Now Auction this April
Rafa Macarrón, Viaje al Espacio, 2020. Estimate: £100,000-150,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

LONDON.- Phillips announced highlights ahead of the New Now auction in London. The sale on 28 April is led by a selection of works from exciting young emerging and blue-chip contemporary artists alike, including Amani Lewis, Doron Langberg, Kehinde Wiley, Emmanuel Taku, Oscar Murillo, Caroline Walker, and Rafa Macarrón, among others. Further highlights include a series of six groupings of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids and a selection of ten works from contemporary African artists including Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude and Marion Boehm, whose work has been donated by Africa First in order to benefit the Africa First Artist Residency Program. The New Now sale will take place on 28 April at 3pm.

Charlotte Gibbs, Associate Specialist, Head of New Now, said, “From the cutting edge to celebrated Pop artists, the vibrant offering we are presenting this April really captures the spirit of New Now. We are delighted to offer an exquisite work on paper by Caroline Walker, an intimate canvas by Doron Langberg, and a totemic sculpture by Annie Morris amongst others. It is a privilege to offer a selection of works by African contemporary artists which have been donated to benefit the Africa First Artist Residency Program. We look forward to presenting collectors with our sale this April and to welcoming visitors to the preview exhibition in person at our galleries on Berkeley Square from 21 to 28 April and online on from 14 to 28 April.”

Executed in vibrant layers of soft lilacs, electric blues, and deep mauve tones, Amani Lewis’ Brittany, Always And Forever (John 11:25) is a tender portrait created in memory of the well-known transgender woman and sex worker Brittany Fleming. Familiar to Lewis and to the wider Baltimore community, the death of the vivacious and remarkable Fleming came as a shock to the artist, who has described the present work as an attempt to honour Fleming’s memory, and to immortalise in paint the kind of transcendence that she possessed in life. In its celebration of a respected, although socially marginalised figure from the Baltimore community, the present work is characteristic of Lewis’ paintings which work purposefully towards examining the complexities of life and shifting the narrative around groups and communities that have historically and culturally been overlooked or discriminated against.

Having made his auction debut with Phillips in March 2022, Doron Langberg represents an increasingly visible generation of figurative painters working with highly charged and deeply personal narratives. The present work, Nisan and Idan in the Studio, exemplifies the artist’s elected use of luminous colours coated in translucent layers of orange, navy, brown, and black. This interior scene is dominated by two figures, Nisan and Idan, at ease in the foreground. Often depicting himself, his family, friends, and partner, Langberg’s work emphasises the importance of touch in both technique and subject matter, placing modes of queer intimacy, community, and the everyday at the heart of his practice. Nisan and Idan in the Studio beautifully manifests this style as this scene freezes a moment in time, emphasizing an emotional resonance between the sitters and the artist himself.

Painted in 2014, Ferdinand-Philippe-Louis-Henri, Duc d'Orléans is a striking portrait by American artist Kehinde Wiley. The artist is best known for his photorealist reimaging of black figures adopting the poses and attitudes struck by the historical subjects of classical European portraiture. With one hand positioned on his hip, his shoulders pulled back and head inclined slightly to one side, the sitter for the present work strikes a powerful pose strongly reminiscent of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ portraits of Ferdinand-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans.

Executed in 2020, Viaje al Espacio is a vibrant example of Rafa Macarrón’s signature dreamscapes. Drawing on an eclectic range of influences, from comic strips and the amorphous structures of French painter-and-sculptor Jean Dubuffet to the immersive works of Chilean Surrealist Roberto Matta, Macarrón has established himself as one of the most notable emerging artists in contemporary Spanish painting. Known for his vivid chromaticism, Macarrón employs an ebullient palette of luminous colours to give playful expression to memories from his childhood.

Painted in 2013, Oscar Murillo’s monumental canvas Carne is an example of the artist’s confident use of paint and his manipulation of materials. Aggressively marked with seemingly haphazard strokes of brown, black, blue, and pink lines, Carne is deeply emotive. Text and the use of words are a typical motif used throughout the artist’s oeuvre, epitomised here by the titular ‘carne’ rendered in vibrant green and underlined in a striking white. Applied in spray paint, the medium of graffiti and usually associated with vandalism, the inclusion of this textual element contributes to the work’s more intense and aggressive visual directness.

Reminiscent of the artist’s Palm Springs and Downtown LA series, Scottish artist Caroline Walker’s Doggy Paddle is a heart-warming example of the artist’s fascination with the beauty of everyday scenes and distinctions between public and private. Walker’s work is often a reflection of the lived experiences of women, providing the viewer with a glimpse into the scenes, emotions, and everyday reality of their domestic and professional lives, a perspective that she shares as a woman artist.

Ghanian-born Emmanuel Taku’s enthusiasm for fashion is at the core of the artist’s portrait practice. Pronounced paisley patterns and statement colours are proudly worn by black figures as exemplified in Seen it All, executed in 2020. Taku layers newspaper, fabric, and acrylic to create intricately made costumes and characters. Unusually, the present work represents a figure whose pupils have been added, whereas Taku’s figures are usually given piercing white eyes that create a ‘superhero’ effect. The presence of pupils in the eyes of the subject of Seen it All highlights the development in Taku’s style. Taku’s process reclaims the objectification of black bodies through the stature and prowess achieved by his well-dressed figures, especially notable here with the domineering pose struck by the subject suavely cloaked in an ornately patterned suit jacket.

A Pop highlight of the sale is a selection of six unique groups of Andy Warhol Polaroids. Iconic images of Warhol’s celebrity subjects, included in this selection are Polaroids of Joan Collins, Jane Fonda, Carly Simon, and Karen Kain, among others. The New Now auction this April presents a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire these portraits.

A group of ten works donated by Serge Tiroche, the founder of Africa First, will feature in the sale. Proceeds from the sales of these works will go towards the Africa First Residency Program which supports emerging artists from Africa and the African diaspora. As well as supporting the work and international reach of established artists through its collection and well-established lending programme, the Africa First Residency Program is part of a movement aimed at improving and expanding the infrastructure for emerging talent through the provision of studio space, creation of new museums, galleries, art fairs and arts programmes. Drawing on traditional craft practices, digital technologies and a rich history of portraiture, the present works are from contemporary artists Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude, Marion Boehm, Cyrus Kabiru, Sadikou Oukpedjo, Wycliffe Mundopa Hupenyu, Terrence Musekiwa, Mário Macilau, Helen Teede, Dawit Abebe, and Robel Temesgen.

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