signed and dated 'Genieve Figgis 2018' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
23 5⁄8 x 31 3⁄8in. (60 x 79.8cm.)
Painted in 2018
Half Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2018.

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Opulent yet haunting, Untitled is emblematic of Genieve Figgis’ signature style. Here she takes François Boucher’s L’Odalisque Blonde (1752) as its source material and contorts the odialisque genre—the eroticised gesture of a reclining nude woman. In doing so, Figgis refashions her protagonist from an object of desire into something more ambiguous, building this uncanny terrain through a medley of limpid brushstrokes, pastel tones of pink, gold and brown bleeding into one another. Eschewing corporal stasis, the reclining figure bubbles and croons to become more mirage than woman. Water plays a natural part in the creation of these aqueous forms, the artist thinning her favoured acrylic paints which allows for a more elastic and serendipitous application of pigment.

The annals of art history have been a constant springboard for Figgis, who has previously mined Old Masters including Fragonard and Velázquez for her subject matter. The artist finds focus in subversion: she recovers fragments from her painterly forefathers, recasting them for contemporary times. New life gives new purpose, and to her motley troupes—often largely female—the artist grants fresh agency to explore their grotesque freedom. However instead of mimicking the strive for a perfection of form and composition, she embraces the shifting grounds of chaos within her paintings. ‘I enjoy working with paint that has no guaranteed outcome or shape,’ she explains (G. Figgis quoted in T. Dafoe, ‘Eight Years Ago, Genieve Figgis Was Painting in Her Kitchen for an Audience of One. Now, Collectors Clamor for Her Six-Figure Works’, Artnet News, 14 December 2021). In the present lot, Figgis decides to retain her leading lady’s voluptuous form, though drops her sensuality in favour of a more uncanny air, turning her sidelong gaze to challenge our position as spectator. In doing so, Figgis builds a wider commentary on parallels between past and present, with the mantra that ‘We are all the same as our predecessors, and “history repeats itself”’ (G. Figgis, quoted in K. Farr, ‘Genieve Figgis: Theater of the Obsessed’, Juxtapoz, 14 November 2017).

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