Crossing the Line: Contemporary Paintings from the Testino Collection

Launch Slideshow

Mario Testino’s passion for art has seen him collect works from the world's leading figures in painting, photography and sculpture over the last thirty years. This dedication also led him to open Museo MATE in Lima, Peru, which illuminates the works of artists from Latin America on the world stage, as well as bringing international contemporary artists to a Peruvian audience. With unique visual insight on the world, Testino has gathered works by Kehinde Wiley, Adrian Ghenie, Cecily Brown, Tauba Auerbach and other artists who continue to push the boundaries of contemporary painting. Click through to see highlights. 

Shake It Up: Works from the Mario Testino Collection Auction to Benefit Museo MATE, Lima, Peru
13 & 14 September 2017

Crossing the Line: Contemporary Paintings from the Testino Collection

  • Dan Colen, Memory Hotel, 2011. Estimate: £70,000–90,000.
    Dan Colen uses found objects in his compositions, that have been described as ‘painted sculptures'. Materials are vitally important to Colen's practice; he often names a work or series after the medium in which it is made: Bubblegum, Birdshit, Candle, Boulder. Reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines, this three-dimensional painting stands at over three metres tall, enveloping the viewer. 

  • Bernard Frize, Justique, 2003. Estimate: £10,000–15,000.
    "It was a matter of solving rhythmic problems, working out brush crossings, above and below – a bit like problems with passing trains" —Bernard Frize in conversation with Olivier Zahm, Purple Magazine, Spring/Summer 2016.

  • Karen Kilimnik, A Play in the Countryside, 2002.
    Estimate: £15,000–20,000.
    Along with European fairy tales, the baroque and romantic landscapes, Karen Kilimnik’s images often draw influence from the work of artists such as George Stubbs and Henry Raeburn – alluding to their 18th-century aesthetic in her contemporary renditions of classic portraiture. A Play in the Countryside borrows from her historic forebears; but using water-soluble oil paint updates the precise process with a fluidity of the surface – and subject. 

  • Adrian Ghenie, The Hiding Place, 2007.
    Estimate: £50,000–70,000.
    Adrian Ghenie works on large-scale canvasses produced in his studios in Berlin and Cluj, Romania. Using diverse source material gathered from television news reports, famous works of art and scientific research, Ghenie examines moments in cultural history. His work often references other significant works and practitioners in art history such as Francis Bacon and Vincent van Gogh as well as the events that have shaped the political and social landscape of Europe. 

  • Kehinde Wiley, St. Francis, 2007.
    Estimate: £30,000–40,000.
    "Status and class and social anxiety and perhaps social code are all released when you look at paintings of powerful individuals from the past," Kehinde Wiley has said. "However, there’s something to be mined and gained by looking at them in a new way. What happens when you see black bodies that have not previously been celebrated on the walls of the most important institutions in the world?... They start to read differently. It becomes a question of 'How do we code the body?'" 

  • Tomma Abts, Zaarke, 2000. Estimate: £25,000–35,000.
    Tomma Abts won the Turner Prize in 2006 and is known for her self-imposed rigour in her painting process: each work she produces is made on a canvas of 48 centimetres by 38 centimetres. In Zaarke, Abt's paintbrush carves out jagged bands of colour that seem violent, almost aggressive if it wasn't for their delicacy. Rendered in deep hues of maroon and red, they form painterly incisions into the depth of the canvas that play with our sense of perception while drawing attention to inherent flatness of painting. 

  • Jules de Balincourt, Charlie Don't Surf, 2005.
    Estimate: £18,000–25,000.
    Paris-born, Brooklyn-based Jules de Balincourt's Charlie Don't Surf is one of several works by the artist in which the subject wears military dress. This portrait is based on the commemorative poster of an American soldier on display at Check Point Charlie in Berlin, though it has been reimagined here by de Balincourt. It takes its title from Francis Ford Coppolla's iconic Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now, thus simultaneously referencing both popular culture and European history. 

  • Verne Dawson, Three Aerialists, 2005.
    Estimate: £50,000–70,000.
    This large energetic canvas – dominated by sky with just the merest suggestion of the ground below – is a celebration of movement, colour and the body. Dawson's work uses narrative elements borrowed from myths, legends and folklore as well as drawing influence from astronomy, literature and pagan symbolism.

  • Gillian Carnegie, L'Examens Dans L'Ordre, 1998.
    Estimate: £8,000–12,000.
    Gillian Carnegie once said: "What my drawings depict doesn't concern me as much as drawing them… People have the habit of reading an image but I'm not concerned with that, because my activity is different from that of a reader. This really works for me when the drawing itself is allowed to appear slowly on behalf of the thing it depicts." Her work often focusses on conventional subject matters for an artist working in oil – the still life or the human form – but considered through Carnegie's analytical approach. Her place as one of Britain's foremost contemporary artists was cemented when she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2005. 

  • Jeff Elrod, Local Minima, 2013. Estimate: £50,000–70,000.
    Jeff Elrod is fascinated in the relationship between the handmade brushstroke and it's younger cousin, the digitally-produced mark. Elrod experiments with both in his practice, using the term 'analogue' to distinguish between the hand-rendered and the computer-generated opposing elements in his abstracts. The components are placed in carefully balanced tension and have equal importance in Elrod's paintings.

  • Cecily Brown, Untitled, 2003. Estimate: £5,000–7,000.
    This expressive work by Cecily Brown is a smaller version of the larger abstract paintings for which she is perhaps best known. In a 2015 interview in Studio International, Brown spoke of working on a small scale: "I'm really invested in what things look like up-close. I hate it when you love a painting, and when you go and look at it closely the surface is really disappointing. The surface looks dead, or the artist was thinking too much about the whole image. To me, the surface is incredibly important… In a way you can see things more clearly when they're small."

  • Oscar Murillo, La Era de la Sinceridad, 2013.
    Estimate: £20,000–30,000.
    In his London studio, Columbian-born Oscar Murillo makes work in and amongst the remnants and materials of previous canvasses. Rather than start each new painting in a pristine environment, he prefers for the space to evolve, accumulate and mature. His works can be likewise cumulative and densely layered; La Era de la Sinceridad is made with oil, oilstick, dirt, paper collage and silkscreen on paper used to produce layer upon layer of expressive marks.

  • Laura Owens, Untitled, 2001. Estimate: £5,000–7,000.
    "Owens's flowers – magnificently tropical and poisonous-looking, or humble and wan – are unconstrained by any sort of botanical accuracy," wrote critic Rachel Kusher in The Believer of Laura Owens's work. "She balances impressive paint-handling with a dose of purposely humble de-skilling. Or she can opt for sheer virtuoso."  

  • Tauba Auerbach, Untitled, 2010.
    Estimate: £600,000–800,000.
    Known for her geometric studies and exploration of typography and colour, and fascinated by the potential and rules of pattern and abstraction, Tauba Auerbach has branched out into collaborations with designers and musicians. Her Untitled, from the Fold Paintings series, looks at the surface of the canvas, and asks the viewer to consider the moment the paint hits the fabric, permanently altering its makeup. 


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