1143
1143

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Luc Tuymans
ALLO! III
Estimate
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Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
5,600,0007,600,000
LOT SOLD. 7,135,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
1143

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Luc Tuymans
ALLO! III
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
5,600,0007,600,000
LOT SOLD. 7,135,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

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Hong Kong

Luc Tuymans
B. 1958
ALLO! III
signed and dated 012 on the reverse
oil on canvas
126.9 by 175.1 cm.   50 by 69 in.
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Provenance

David Zwirner Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner

This work will be included in Luc Tuymans Catalogue Raisonné, Volume Three (2007–2018), which will be published by Yale/David Zwirner Books in Fall 2019. 

Exhibited

London, David Zwirner, Luc Tuymans: Allo!, October – November 2012

Catalogue Note

If you ask people to remember a painting and a photograph, their description of the photograph is far more accurate than that of the painting.

Luc Tuymans


Executed in 2012, Luc Tuymans’ Allo! III is a painting of a photograph of a film still from the 1942 Hollywood movie The Moon and Sixpence, which was itself based on W. Somerset Maughaum’s eponymous 1919 novel inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin. The film and novel features protagonist Charles Strickland, a middle-aged English stockbroker who abandoned his wife and children to pursue life as an artist in Tahiti. In the final scene, after Strickland’s death, his doctor travels to the late artist’s primitive Tahitian hut and encounters his paintings – moments before Strickland’s indigenous widow sets fire to everything, destroying the paintings. The 1942 movie employed fake Gauguin paintings as props for these final scenes, which Tuymans regarded as “extremely kitschy” (the artist cited in Martin Herbert, “Luc Tuymans: On painting, filmmaking and how to look at art”, in ArtReview, October 2012). By recreating these final scenes, employing a style reminiscent of Gauguin’s work and a palette simulating the early-Technicolour concluding scenes of the otherwise black-and-white movie, Tuymans’ Allo! paintings offer a critique on Hollywood’s idealization of the artist as romantic savage as well as Modernism’s fascination with developing civilizations as the exotic Other.

Tuymans’ Allo! series, consisting of seven paintings, arose from an initial commission for Le Roi des Belges in London in 2012. Le Roi des Belges which was a ship-like installation on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank named after the boat Joseph Conrad sailed on the Congo River in 1890. Conrad’s trip would inspire his famous Heart of Darkness (1899), which later inspired Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now (1979). Known for addressing a complex range of loaded political subjects, ranging from World War II gas chambers to Belgium’s troubled colonial history, Tuymans was chosen to reflect on the post-colonial issues addressed on board Le Roi des Belges. In particular, he was invited to create a work based on a particular scene in Heart of Darkness in which the ivory trader Mr. Kurtz speaks about two paintings he has made. Tuymans, however, went for a different direction, zooming in instead on the closing acts of Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence. The artist’s resulting work Allo! was hung aboard the ship, where artistic and literary creatives were invited to stay and make work based on their experience.

Tuymans subsequently moved on to create a cycle of seven Allo! paintings that are as clever in their conception as they are aesthetically compelling – and unusually colourful for Tuymans’ otherwise restrained palette. Tuymans filters the sudden burst of brash hues of early-Technicolour in the film’s last frames with his characteristic muted chalky tones, creating a hazy hallucinatory trompe l’oeil effect of atmospheric ambiguity. With thick bold brushwork reminiscent of Gauguin’s late 19th century Tahitian paintings, Tuymans models his sensuous forms sculpted in iridescent light, which are evocative of holographic traces. The result is evocative of a faded photograph, compelling the viewer inwards whilst always on the verge of fading away, as if slipping from total recall of memory. The Prussian blue of the doctor’s jacket and fedora, designed to contrast with the exotic coral reds and yellows of the rest of the scene, becomes instead wholly merged with the background narrative. The sequential series evokes graphic illustrations or cartoons; however, the multiple layers of representations featured within a single work places extreme emphasis on the medium and process of painting.

What makes it all the more interesting is that, barely visible but just noticeable enough, is Tuymans’ own reflection in the screen as he photographed the movie on his television. The scene in Allo! III is thus not only several layers removed from the image we seem to instantly recognise; but one that furthermore involves and implicates the artist and viewer. A là Manet in A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, the painter makes the viewer aware of his/her position towards the complex internal narrative of the painting, and with that our position towards Western colonial history as it is depicted within it. Perhaps it was the fact that the English painter’s hut was burned down by his wife shortly after the paintings are revealed in the movie that inspired Tuymans. His approach towards his subject is certainly very ironic, as Adrian Searle describes it: “a joke on modernism, dealing with fake ideas of the new, the exotic and the colourful” (Adrian Searle, ‘Adrian Searle encounters... Luc Tuymans’ Allo!, The Guardian, 4 May 2012, online). Ben Eastham further describes Tuymans’s work as “obliquely critiquing art’s tendency to exoticise other cultures” (Ben Eastham, ‘A Necessary Realism: Interview with Luc Tuymans’, Apollo Magazine, August 2015).

Tuymans’ wit is demonstrated by a final, unlikely influence on the present cycle of paintings: a bar near Antwerp’s Red Light District, where the owner keeps a parrot that cries Allo! any time a customer walks in. The exotic bird can be seen as a symbol of the remnants of colonial exoticism – and it might come as no surprise that the colours of Allo! III and the parrot are nearly identical – coral red, blue and yellow. Superlatively exemplary of Tuymans’ acclaimed practice that engages visually and conceptually with pre-existing imagery in order to offer multi-layered narratives and critiques on a wide range of political subjects, Allo! III ranks amongst the strongest works within the artist’s oeuvre.

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

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Hong Kong