Phillips announces highlights from the Hong Kong sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design

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Phillips announces highlights from the Hong Kong sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design
Ernie Barnes, Life After Sundown, 1979. Acrylic on canvas, 92 x 122 cm. Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000/ US$192,000-321,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

HONG KONG.- Phillips announced that the full lineup for the Hong Kong Sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design is now available online. Comprised of finest works by masters of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Evening Sale is led by some of the most celebrated artists of our time, including George Condo, David Hockney, Matthew Wong, Lee Ufan, Zhang Xiaogang, and Yoshitomo Nara. Other highlights include paintings by in-demand contemporary stars such as Nicolas Party, Ernie Barnes, Ouattara Watts, alongside rising young female artists Lucy Bell, Anna Park, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Issy Wood, Shara Hughes, Allison Zuckerman, and Anna Weyant. The Day Sale will take place on 21 June at 12pm HKT, followed by the Evening Sale on 22 June at 6pm HKT.

Jonathan Crockett, Chairman, Asia, Phillips, said, “Hot on the heels of Phillips’ most successful auction ever in New York, we are excited to present a strong and vibrant selection of artworks this June across the Hong Kong Evening and Day Sales. Our Evening Sale spans over 100 years of art history and includes Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s delicate 1902 La Bergère, and David Hockney’s seminal 1965 Painted Landscape, as well as highly desirable works by exciting new market stars such as Ernie Barnes, Ouattara Watts and Scott Kahn. Additionally, we are delighted that LAAB Architects, appointed designers of our cutting-edge and spectacular new Phillips’ Asia headquarters, will curate this season’s Pantone Room as the project’s finale before we move into our new space in the West Kowloon Cultural District.”

Isaure de Viel Castel, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Phillips Hong Kong, said, “Cementing Phillips’ commitment to present the most globally sought-after artists in our Asian sales, we are delighted to have assembled auctions that offer a broad array of international names, reflecting the current collecting tastes. The Evening and Day Sales champion a rich diversity of female artists from the contemporary scene, including artists such as Lucy Bull, Issy Wood, and Anna Park, each with her own distinct style and artistic vocabulary. We look forward to welcoming collectors and art lovers in Hong Kong to view the works at JW Marriott from 18-22 June.”

Leading the Evening Sale is George Condo’s Transparent Female Forms, 2009 from his seminal Drawing Paintings series. Marking the beginning of what would become a decade-long preoccupation with the Drawing Paintings, this exquisite work synergises the traditionally disparate processes of drawing and painting—all whilst retaining the artist’s signature brand of “psychological cubism.” In Transparent Female Forms, a kaleidoscope of jewel-like hues emerges from a neutral ground, superimposed with gestural improvisations that lend the work a sense of rhythm invoking Condo’s preoccupation with music, which he studied alongside art history in university.

Executed one year before the artist’s inclusion in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York’s 2010 Biennial, and two years before his monumental mid-career retrospective at the New Museum, Transparent Female Forms marked both a professional and a formal turning point for the artist. Not only indexing a transition from solo portraits to canvases with several figures, this period saw Condo employing a diverse array of techniques and aesthetics.

The Art of Scenery

Landscape art has remained one of the most popular themes in paintings, as it resonates with a wide audience. Defined by the artistic genre focusing on natural surroundings, many artists continue to use scenes of nature as a way to tell stories, illustrate ideas, or conceptualise metaphors. This season, a series of works in the style of landscape that crosses cultures and eras will highlight the 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, ranging from David Hockney’s semi-abstract landscape from the 1960s, Scott Kahn’s strikingly atmospheric landscape, Shara Hughes’ surreal landscape, to the late Matthew Wong’s imagined landscape.

A lyrical fusion of geometric Cubism, Surrealist abstraction and still life, Painted Landscape (Or Red and Blue Landscape) showcases David Hockney’s unparalleled ability in creating an utterly intriguing composition. Created when the artist was only 28 years old, the work is an early example of Hockney’s objective in engaging in dialogues with other artists through layers of complex imagery. Containing a dazzling variety of brushstrokes – from long blended marks to short, staccato touches – Hockney represented each area of the image, from the curtains and flooring to the figure and the seascape, with a distinctly different handling of the brush, creating an overall surface effect of pulsating cross-rhythms. One of the most influential and widely recognised artists of our time, Hockney has several ongoing and upcoming solo exhibitions in prominent museums in Vienna, Cambridge, Berlin, Bath and Nice this year.

As much tactile as spiritual, Matthew Wong would combine thick impasto strokes with sweeping tracks of pattern and expanses of black canvas in a harmony that demanded incongruity yet delivered harmony. This is brilliantly exhibited in Pink Wave where teal and navy horizontals are broken up by the sweeping burgundy coastline and the speckled beach, while the golden tributary is crowned by a floral explosion of fuchsia. Highlighting the deep well of influences that Wong drew from, the incorporation of a solitary figure into a landscape recalls the forms of Chinese landscape painting, which used such figures as a kind of vanitas for the impossible forces of nature. Ultimately, this allows the present work to act as a bridge between Western and Asian artistic traditions and sensibilities.

Wong’s works reside in notable public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Continuing the momentum around the artist’s acclaim, this October the Dallas Museum of Art will host Wong’s first museum retrospective in the United States.

Barnes and Watts – Their Time is Now

Phillips is excited to present a work by Ernie Barnes for the first time, who stole headlines during New York auctions last month when his iconic 1976 painting sold for a remarkable US$15.3 million. A widely loved and popular painter during his time, Barnes was a professional American football player before becoming an artist. It was this past as a football player that informed his mastery over the human anatomy, reconciling his roles as an athlete and artist. Though what marks Barnes’ practice is his distinct Neo-Mannerist style, with elongated bodies suspended in exuberant contortions and fervent motion forming a wholly unique vision that acts as a kind of El Greco-meets-Soul Train, one that elevates African-American tradition to the very summit of art history.

Both during his lifetime and retrospectively, Barnes has erroneously been left out of the canon of art history by critics and academics alike. While time will tell whether the art establishment will reconsider its eschewal of one of America’s great modernist painters, what is undoubtable is the reverence that Ernie Barnes deserves for masterful, joyous compositions – with Life After Sundown offered this season being a shining example of such.

Like Ernie Barnes, Ouattara Watts is an artist who is undeserving to be passed over in the canon of art history. Born in the Ivory Coast, Watts studied art in Paris where he met fellow artist and friend Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was impressed by his works and encouraged him to move to New York. Watts has been involved in notable exhibitions and his work can be found in the collections of leading institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Presented in this season’s Evening Sale is Intercessor, an accomplished late work by the artist, in which an assemblage of chromatic variations and geometric shapes and symbols is balanced by biometric figures in an intoxication of colour, line and form.

Renoir in the 20th Century

Painted circa 1902, La Bergère is a gem of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s late oeuvre that distinguished his singular painterly language as an Impressionist. Referencing the traditional subject of the female shepherd, La Bergère embodies the signature fusion of classicism and Impressionism Renoir achieved in his late canvases, showcasing the thick, loose brushwork and fusion of warm and luminous color that characterize the artist’s mature style. In the present work, brilliant hues of red, yellow, and orange complement rich blues and greens, resulting in a balance of warm and cool tones that at once grounds Renoir’s forms with a sense of solidity and instills the composition with an ethereal painterly quality. The artist’s ability to synthesise these two opposing visual effects into a coherent whole is thus echoed in his seamless amalgamation of classical themes with his modern technique by the 1900s.

This season’s Hong Kong Sales continue to present works by rising stars in the Contemporary art scene. Among them are a number of young female artists such as Lucy Bull, Anna Park, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Issy Wood, Allison Zuckerman, and Anna Weyant.

Lucy Bull is one of the world’s most exciting and forward-thinking young painters active today. Marking her auction debut in Asia, Not Yet Titled is defined by dialectic, opposition, contrast – precision and abandon, order and chaos, concord and discord. It stands as one of the artist’s largest visions, where forms and patterns seem to emerge to allow us grounding in the composition, only to then fall away as the kaleidoscopic sands of pigment shift eternal, forcing self-accusations of pareidolia.

Composed with an amalgamation of references culled from the artist’s obsessive absorption of visual culture, the bewildering 2019 painting Hand's Job takes the viewer on another adventure into the humorously bizarre and wild visual realm of Italian American artist Jamian Juliano‐Villani. Working with projectors and sourced imagery, her signature practice of combining disparate styles and subject matters pushes the envelope of the conventional subconscious preconception that everything should make logical sense, garnering her growing recognition and popularity in the international art scene.

The 25-year-old South Korean artist Anna Park’s frenetic charcoal drawings that teeter between abstraction and figuration have earned international recognition. First discovered by KAWS at the New York Academy of Art open studio exhibition, the artist has had sold out solo shows in New York and Tokyo in the past year alone, and her vast charcoal compositions went to major museum collections including the ICA Miami, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Marking her first appearance at auction, I to I, presented here, is a prime example of the artist’s charcoal-drawn scenes that take us back to the quintessential chaos of pre-pandemic New York life.

Pantone 16-4002 TSX by LAAB: Fine Art Meets Functional Furniture

Phillips will soon be relocating its Asia headquarters, designed by LAAB Architects, to Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District. A multidisciplinary studio known for its spatial innovations, LAAB also designed this season’s Pantone Room at the Hong Kong pre-sale exhibition features Pantone 16-4002 TSX Concrete Grey and a spectrum of warm yellow colours, the inspiration for which came from the magical hour in the West Kowloon Cultural District when the sunlight gradually changes the colour of the concrete facades of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building. As the sun changes its angle, the horizon also opens up, embracing a world of new possibilities and transformation. A spectrum of yellow chambers with curated furniture and artworks, invisible at first sight, then gradually revealed as visitors move from one end of the Pantone Room to the other.

Among the Design highlights featured in the Day Sale are a group of works from a bespoke commission designed by Mira Nakashima and executed by George Nakashima Woodworkers in Pennsylvania. The workshop was started by George Nakashima in the 1940s as a reactionary movement against 20th Century ‘modern’ architecture, design and art. These works are made from the most exquisite and sought-after solid and single wood boards taken from the carefully selected collection of woods stored by George Nakashima since the 1950s. Since George’s death in 1990, the workshop has been led by his daughter Mira who applies the same instinctive approach to design as her father did. Having been part of the business since the 1970s, she keeps his legacy alive through old and new designs as well as specific commissions. With the choice of wood at the heart of all her commissions, Mira’s personal approach to design conveys her profound love for nature and aims to instill a sense of natural beauty and harmony to the pieces she creates.

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