ONLINE AUCTIONFocal Points18 – 27 August 2015Bid Now
Postmodern art is nothing if not paradoxical: by definition, it resists definition. With Modernism’s end came unprecedented expansion — the insistence of contingency over absolutes, fluidity over dogma —initiating a new era in which artists with diverse origins and fresh perspectives could reimagine and reinvent accepted forms of art, history, and narrative.
For their latest online sale, Focal Points, Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art specialists have curated a selection as diverse and evocative as the contemporary art landscape — from the bold painterly figuration of German artist Anton Henning, to meditative selections from Chinese-born artist Zhang Huan’s ‘Earth Life’ series. Below, Christie’s Specialist Amanda Lo Iacono examines these and other favourites from the online auction, which is open for bidding from 18-27 August.
Zarina Bhimji’s Shadows and Disturbances
Zarina Bhimji (b. 1963), Shadows and Disturbances, 2007. Ilfochrome Ciba Classic Print, 48 x 60¾in. (121.8 x 154.4cm.). Estimate: GBP 1,500 - 2,500.
British artist Zarina Bhimji’s images present a multi-layered synthesis of her unique social, political, and cultural observations. Nominated for the 2007 Turner Prize, Bhimji’s photographs of the landscape and architecture of her native Uganda are almost painterly in composition, suffused with lush light and textures. Capturing in sharp chiaroscuro the once lavish, now dilapidated entrance to a seemingly abandoned structure, Shadows and Disturbances (2007) evokes a sense of human presence and absence, of richness and decay. The work was one of seven to represent the artist at the Turner prize competition, and was later shown at her landmark solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, in London, in 2012 — an abiding testament to her artistic and observational powers.
Keith Tyson’s That Which Is and Might Have Been Geno/Pheno Painting
Keith Tyson (b. 1969), That Which Is and Might Have Been Geno/Pheno Painting, 2004. Acrylic on aluminium in artist's frame, in two parts, each 33½ x 24⅝in. (85.2 x 62.5cm.). Estimate: GBP 15,000 - 20,000.
Winner of the Turner Prize in 2002, Keith Tyson merges disparate disciplines in his artistic practice, including natural science, philosophy, and computer programming. In his ‘Geno /Pheno’ series, Tyson uses genetic science as a conceptual framework to generate a multitude of creative outcomes. This colourful and cryptic work from 2004 is one of 27 diptychs from the series: in each, the left panel represents a generative scheme, Tyson’s interpretive rendition of a ‘genotype’; on the right is its related ‘phenotype’, an observable outcome of the genotype’s encoded instructions. (The full series also comprises 18 sculptures.) Forceful and enigmatic, this work highlights the artist’s enduring fascination with the origins of matter and the endless possibilities generated by chance.
Anton Henning’s, Interior No. 83
Anton Henning (b. 1964), Interior No. 83, 2001. Oil on canvas, 49⅜ x 61¾in. (125.5 x 157cm.). Estimate: GBP 10,000 - 15,000.
Anton Henning’s Interior No. 83 (2001) perfectly encapsulates the German multi-media artist’s deft ability to draw inspiration from the art historical canon and re-image it in ways that defy the constraints of any one artistic movement or style. This scene recalls the interiors of Vincent Van Gogh, as well as Henri Matisse’s The Red Studio and The Pink Studio (both 1911). In Henning’s piece, many of the objects on the floor and on the walls seem to have vanished, fully or in part, leaving only blank shapes behind. The artist’s characteristic swirls create movement across the figurative scene but also undermine it, fusing with the table, chairs, and wall, flattening the perspective and blurring its internal borders.
Anthony Goicolea’s Arena Triptych
Anthony Goicolea (b. 1962), Arena Triptych, 2008. C-print, ink and acrylic, in three parts: left, 50⅛ x 70in. (127.2 x 177.7cm.); centre, 50 x 74¾in. (127 x 190cm.); right, 50⅛ x 70in. (127.2 x 177.7cm.). Estimate: GBP 3,000 - 5,000.
Anthony Giocolea has delved into themes of memory and nostalgia throughout his career, using drawing, painting, installation, and photography to investigate his family history and feelings of personal and cultural alienation. An American of Cuban descent, the artist made his first pilgrimage to Cuba in May 2008, where he visited and photographed the spaces once inhabited by his family. The resulting series — of which this work, Arena Triptych (2008), is part — eschews straight documentary representation, however. Each image is digitally assembled from multiple shoots, at locations throughout Cuba. Goicolea further manipulates these hybrid images by drawing atop them or painting over small spatial voids. In doing so he re-imagines and re-images the objects and spaces he photographs into subjective new assemblages of social and physical history.
Zhang Huan’s Earth Life No. 16
Zhang Huan (b. 1965) Earth Life No. 16, 2007 (detail). Oil on canvas, 63 x 98¼in. (160 x 249.5cm.). Estimate: GBP 7,000 - 10,000.
Born in 1965 in Anyang, Henan Province, Zhang Huan is widely recognised as one of China’s most provocative and influential artists. His ‘Early Life’ series — large, luminous canvases featuring life-size, painstakingly hand-painted insects like dragonflies, mosquitoes, cicadas, or ants — is a celebration of life and nature in accordance with the Buddhist principle of treating all living things with equal respect. In their exquisite detail, the works are poetic depictions of individualism within a larger collective, drawn from everyday life in China. Suspended in animation, it’s as though the insects were plucked from earth and sky to create a constellational composition — a harmonious vision of man’s relationship with nature and the interdependence of order and chaos.
Jane & Louise Wilson’s, Urville
Jane & Louise Wilson (b. 1965), Urville, 2006. C-print face mounted to Plexiglas mounted on dibond, 70⅞ x 70⅞in. (180 x 180cm.). Estimate: GBP 2,000 - 3,000.
Twins Jane & Louise Wilson (Turner prize nominees, 1999) work across a range of media to examine the residue of individual and collective memory amid the spaces, bodies, and identities we inhabit and abandon. Urville (2006) belongs to a series of works that document German sea defences on the Normandy coast, an edition of which, along with two other works from the series, was purchased by the Tate and has recently been exhibited in Tate Britain’s 2013 exhibition, ‘Ruin Lust’, and Tate Modern’s 2014 exhibition ‘Conflict, Time, Photography’. The poignancy of the Wilsons’ photographic work frequently derives from the human echo still resonating in spaces now vacant or abandoned, reinforced through the artists’ use of scale and contrast. Though the central object of Urville is monumental in scale, degraded in condition, and abstracted by time, the Wilsons recover it from its depersonalized distance through their intimate photographic practice, opening the form to narratives old and new, real and imagined.
Visit our Focal Points Online Auction between 18-27 August to bid on these and other works of post-war and contemporary prints, photography, paintings and more.
Edited from an Interview with Austin Considine