“On one hand, I work on an image in an almost classical vein: composition, figuration, use of light. On the other hand, I do not refrain from resorting to all kinds of idioms, such as the surrealist principle of association or the abstract experiments which foreground texture and surface.” --Adrian Ghenie
“If Warhol can be regarded as an artist of strategy, his choice of Mao as a subject - as the ultimate star - was brilliant. The image of Mao taken from the portrait photograph reproduced in the Chairman's so-called Little Red Book, is probably the one recognised by more of the earth's population than any other - a ready-made icon representing absolute political and cultural power. In Warhol's hands, this image could be considered ominously and universally threatening, or a parody or both.”
Hong Kong – Midas and the Infinite is one of Damien Hirst's series of opulent butterfly monochrome paintings made for the Sotheby's auction 'Beautiful Inside My Head Forever' in 2008. With its pseudo religious glow, the stunning painting is made up of a panoply of different butterfly species – some large, some small, some brightly coloured, others mottled. The exuberant hues of the butterflies' gossamer wings – iridescent and reflecting light – are set on a stunning expanse of gold that induces awe and contemplation. Their fragile existence and brief lifespan become poignant in their enshrinement in household gloss. The use of butterflies make up a core body of work in Hirst’s oeuvre, and the animal has both religious and spiritual associations. For centuries, the image of the butterfly has been revered and reproduced by numerous cultural and religious groups, not only for its inherent beauty, but also for its symbolic significance. Contemporary French artist Jean Dubuffet, a pioneering figure of the Art Brut movement, was one of the first artists to use these specimens as “found objects” on his canvases such as Apollo Pap’s Nose from 1953. The butterfly can represent development, change and evolution at its most basic physiological level. The insect’s metamorphosis into a fully realized butterfly is one that is familiar to many; the egg hatches into a caterpillar which grows and then develops into a formed butterfly.
Hong Kong – It is Sotheby’s privilege to present “Yamaguchi Takeo – Composing Monochrome” – the first dedicated Yamaguchi Takeo auction ever to appear on the market. The sale honours the extraordinary career of one of the most important pioneers of Japanese abstraction whose discreet yet far-reaching influence was critical in shaping the post-war Asian avant-garde.
Rock’n’roll rebellion meets poignant vulnerability in Nara Yoshitomo’s universally celebrated oeuvre, not least in Life is only one! and There is no place like home —two classical Nara pieces that bear two of the artists most signature inscriptions. The quintessential Nara phrase “Life is only one!”, an ambiguous yet striking affirmation that appears frequently in the artist’s oeuvre, was the headlining title of Nara’s major solo retrospective at Asia Society Hong Kong Center last year. “There is no place like home” is also an oft-repeated Nara axiom: juxtaposed against the artist’s iconic sulking and disgruntled child figures, the age-old idiom is subverted into an indignant accusation, proclaiming a personal and universal truth of childhood loneliness and alienation. NARA YOSHIMOTO, LIFE IS ONLY ONE! 2008 OIL ON WOOD 169X254CM ESTIMATE HK$6,000,000 – 8,000,000. © NARA YOSHITOMO
Continuing the momentum we saw for Contemporary Korean and Japanese artists during our ground-breaking selling exhibition in March, the spring sale offered a fine selection of works by leading figures from the abstract movements – Park Seobo, Chung Sanghwa and Tanaka Atsuko. All achieved extraordinary results and were sold at multiple times of their previous auction records, demonstrating Sotheby’s vision in showcasing this category at auction.
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