Phillips and Poly Auction Present A Diverse Array of International Works in the Hong Kong Fall Sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design
Led by Gerhard Richter’s Kerzenschein (Candle-light); Sales on 29 – 30 November to Highlight the Best of Artistic Movements from the 19th Century to the Present Day
HONG KONG –12 November 2021 – Taking place on 29 – 30 November, the Hong Kong auctions of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design presented by Phillips in association with Poly Auction will encompass works by Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary masters, as well as works by the most in-demand artists on the market today. Led by an incandescent masterpiece by Gerhard Richter, the sales will also be highlighted by works from Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Alexander Calder, Matthew Wong, Julie Curtiss, Salman Toor and Javier Calleja. As demand for Western and African art continue to heat up in Asia, the Evening and Day Sales will also feature Asia auction debuts by Billie Zangewa, Scott Kahn, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Raymond Pettibon, Mickalene Thomas, and more.
Isaure de Viel Castel, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Phillips Hong Kong, said, “We have been seeing a proliferated desire for International Modern and Contemporary art in Asia in recent years. Therefore, we are thrilled to present such a diverse, strong and vibrant selection of works this November across the Evening and Day Sales in Hong Kong. We are also proud to introduce ULTRA/NEO, a new themed series spotlighting a generation of ultra-contemporary young talents who were born roughly in the parameters of the post-1970, internet era. Presenting a tremendous group of artists who are new to the Asian secondary market alongside Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary masters, this season’s sales offer collectors and art lovers in the region a rare opportunity to acquire and appreciate artworks spanning over 130 years of art history.”
Leading the Evening Sale is Gerhard Richter’s Kerzenschein (Candle‐light) (illustrated first page), a radical and captivating masterpiece from a pivotal moment of aesthetic and conceptual transition in the German master’s career. Painted in 1984, this is a singularly important work that in title and visual association refers to the artist’s iconic body of Kerzen (Candles) paintings from 1982‐1983. Longitudinally bisected down the centre, it presents a crisp duality that echoes the earlier still life works featuring two candles, while its abstract planes of colour communicate the evanescence of flame and light.
From Impressionist to Modern Masters
For the first time in Asia, the sale will unite two artists whose works are considered foundational in the development of 20th century art - Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin. Of the works to be included is Monet’s Pavots dans un vase de Chine, painted in 1883, the year the artist moved to his beloved house and gardens in Giverny, France. In addition to Monet’s en plein air landscape painting, still life also occupied an important place within his practice. Like its sister work, Vase au Pavots, now residing in the permanent collection of the Museum Boijams von Beuningen in Rotterdam, Pavots dans un vase de Chine features the distinctive Oriental poppies planted by Monet at Giverny.
At once tender and erotic, Auguste Rodin’s Le Baiser remains one of the most iconic and timeless depictions of sensual desire in the history of Western art. A vivid depiction of forbidden passion, Le Baiser tells the story of doomed lovers Paolo and Francesca who were condemned to suffer in hell for their illicit affair. Alongside three large marble sculptures, one of which still resides at the Musée Rodin in Paris, the success of Le Baiser ensured its reproduction in the form of bronze reductions. Undertaken by the Leblanc-Barbedienne foundry, the present work is a 1914 lifetime cast of an 1898 reduction, and several of these Barbedienne casts are now in public collections. As the recent exhibition The Making of Rodin at the Tate Modern in London has emphasised, Rodin’s sculptural process continues to be a matter of critical fascination.
Imbued with exquisite poise, balletic dexterity, and elegant movement, Alexander Calder’s Two Red Petals in the Air encapsulates the artist’s era‐defining style and technical agility as a sculptor of colour and metal. The work’s concise simplicity and compact form, perfectly calibrated to convey maximum impact with the greatest degree of effortlessness, exemplifies Calder’s ability to synthesise colour, form, and movement in a wholly unique fashion that ultimately transformed the course of 20th century sculpture. An exceptional example of Japanese-French artist Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita’s female nude paintings, Reclining Nude portrays the reclining body of one of his most famous lovers, Madeleine Lequeux, whom Foujita fell in love with in Paris in 1930. Comprising a large portion of his oeuvre, the female nude is a subject Foujita vigorously and actively explored in his East-meets-West practice. Although it is a genre heavily associated with Western iconography, many of Foujita’s nude paintings were styled with calligraphic brushworks and flat perspectives, suggestive of a visual language deeply rooted in traditional Asian art, demonstrating the cross-cultural nature of his works.
With the number of young and ambitious art collectors ever expanding exponentially across Asia, the strong demand for emerging and diverse artists continues to take centre stage at auctions and set impressive auction records. This season’s sales bring together works from some of the young sought-after stars including Julie Curtiss, Salman Toor, Javier Calleja, Matthew Wong, Shara Hughes, Nicolas Party, Robert Nana, Jadé Fadojutimi, and more.
Painted in 2018, shortly before French-Vietnamese artist Julie Curtiss’ launch to critical success following her first solo exhibition in Spring the following year, Escargot is a marvellous painting from her distinctive oeuvre. Playfully alluding to the work’s title, the protagonist is spotlighted against a rosy mocha background, her hair tightly twisted into two spiralling buns reminiscent of coiling snail shells, perfectly exemplifying Curtiss’ reworking of female representations through a surrealist sense of the uncanny. Her top auction result was recently achieved by Phillips New York in June 2021 when Three Widows (2016) sold for US$4.6 million.
Demonstrative of Salman Toor’s rocketing success, his auction record has been broken several times over the past year, with the current top place achieved during the Evening Sale conducted by Phillips and Poly Auction in June this year. This season , the Evening Sale presents yet another captivating work by the artist, East Village Iqbal Bano, executed in 2018 and unveiled at Toor’s solo exhibition Salman Toor | Time After Time in New York. Whilst the work is filled with contemporary connotations—the laptop, ceramic ashtray and glowing windows of the apartment blocks outside— his painterly virtuosity renders the image with an almost Renaissance-era panache of technical perfection, dignity, aspiration and light. Having recently presented his first museum solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Toor has an upcoming solo exhibition scheduled to open in early 2022 in Beijing, which will mark the artist’s first museum solo presentation in Asia.
Following the successful sales of Chinese-Canadian artist Matthew Wong’s River at Dusk (2018) and Figure in a Night Landscape (2017) in Hong Kong, resulting in top two prices for the artist sold at auctions, this season’s Evening Sale will offer two superlative examples from the artist’s limited oeuvre painted within the final years of Wong’s prolific year yet short-lived years including Far Away Eyes and Nature’s Church.
Works by a generation of ultra-contemporary young talents, with a specific focus on the Asian region will be highlighted across the Evening and Day Sales this season, including Susumu Kamijo, Izumi Kato, Yukimasa Ida, Huang Yuxing, and more. The amalgamation of ‘ultra’ and ‘neo’ draws on the hyper-contemporary, merged with the neo, liminal spaces in which artists of our generation exist. In a category that is constantly evolving, set against the acceleration of cultural changes in our world today, ULTRA/NEO is our love letter to a selection of ultra-contemporary Asian artists. All coming of age during the internet era, a common thread that unites them is their strong ability to build upon Eastern and Western art history, to build fresh perspectives on themes of globalisation, national identity and human condition through the use of a high-octane colour palettes, bold lines and flattened forms. This group of artists represent a dynamic force and is certainly redefining what resonates with the collectors of our time.
One highlight from the group is Susumu Kamijo’s Marching to the Sun, an aesthetically exemplary piece from Kamijo’s uniquely recognisable oeuvre: featuring two of the artist’s trademark poodles, the painting confers a majestic, almost imperial stateliness, with the poodles’ abstracted forms approaching that of imposing Japanese Samurai soldiers marching side-by-side under the blood-red glow of a setting sun.
Auction Debut in Asia
A growing number of Western and African artworks by blue-chip and emerging names are making appearances in Asia. This season’s line-up is full of new names to the Asian auction market, from more established figures like Scott Kahn and Raymond Pettibon, to such young artists as Ewa Juszkiewicz and Cinga Samson. Raymond Pettibon is known for his bombastic, often irreverent style which aims to satirise and scrutinise Pop culture. His art is borne of his propensity for being anti-establishment, having emerged from the Los Angeles punk scene of the 1980s. Unlike the majority of Pettibon's motifs which focus on raging cultural criticism, surfing remained constant within his oeuvre from 1985 onwards; a remnant of his time growing up on Hermosa Beach before then living on Venice Beach in California as an adult. Amalgamating various Francis Bacon texts, Untitled (Force makes nature more violent) presented here is both deceptively simple in its visual/textual pairing and yet deliberately so—much like most of Pettibon’s art. Set against cheerful cerulean waves are ominous lines from Bacon, scrawled in the artist’s own hand.
Billie Zangewa’s practice almost exclusively involves the creation of elaborate collages hand-sewn onto fragments of raw silk. Having begun her career in fashion and advertising, the artist seeks to disrupt the stereotype of the black female form through her detailed silk tapestries, drawing predominantly from personal memories. As a rising star in the world of contemporary art, the buzz around Polish-painter Ewa Juszkiewicz’s popularity continues to grow at a catapulting rate. As the first work by the artist to be offered at auction in Asia, Appropriation is an arresting image that beautifully exemplifies Juszkiewicz’s distinctive style, portraying an oil painted rendering of a marble female bust partially cloaked by invasive green foliage. Encapsulating the artist’s interest in art historical depictions of the female sitter and the ways in which past cultural imperatives continue to reverberate, Juszkiewicz remixes classical portraiture to ‘disturb the harmony and façade and to bring these characters to life’.
The Pantone Room: Fine Art Meets Functional Furniture
In 2019, Phillips unveiled a groundbreaking concept at the Hong Kong pre-sale exhibitions: the Pantone Room, a custom-designed space by award-winning designers, displaying a curated selection of fine art, functional furniture and conceptual works from the Day Sale. Since the project started, design selections featured in the Hong Kong Day Sales have achieved 100% sell-through rates. This season, Nelson Chow, founder of NC Design & Architecture Ltd., who has emerged as one of Asia’s most innovative designers, will be given a dedicated area in the Hong Kong preview at JW Marriott, to curate a selection of design items and art pieces for “Pantone 2746C by Nelson Chow”. Chow’s inspiration for this season’s Pantone Room came from the capsule hotels in Japan and its iconic architecture characterised by rows of stacked cubes with large windows looking into the rooms. Chow developed this architectural language into a concept, imagining each room as a time capsule. Visitors are invited to peek through the circular windows to take a glimpse at the art and furniture preserved from a bygone era.
This season’s Day Sale brings together 11 beautiful works of 20th and 21st century design by highly influential architects and designers such as Gio Ponti, Hans J. Wegner, Ole Wanscher, and Shiro Kuramata. Among the highlights is Shiro Kuramata’s iconic, nearly translucent sofa made from copper‐plated metal mesh. Since its debut in 1986, ‘How High the Moon’ has been an emblem of 20th century design and remains a masterwork within Kuramata’s oeuvre. The designer’s dynamic use of materials, particularly those that were transparent, combination of surfaces and awareness of the potential of light in design led him to create objects that stretched structural boundaries and were also visually captivating.