At an evening sale of modern and contemporary art hosted by Phillips in Hong Kong on Tuesday that fetched $27 million, Lucy Bull, Trey Abdella and Ayako Rokkaku were among a handful of selected artists who caught the eye when their works exceeded expectations.
As always, works by young contemporary artists, which speculative art buyers are known to be drawn to, remained in high demand at the Phillips Hong Kong sale. Other works by established names like George Condo, Lee Ufan and Pierre Soulages were among the top sellers of the night, fetching prices over $1 million.
But Bull and Abdella were among a handful of young artists who made their auction debuts in Asia this week. Entries like these in Hong Kong sales usually grab the attention of bidders. In a statement following the sale, the Phillips Hong Kong specialist Isaure de Viel Castel, says the house aimed to highlight artists of a “new generation”, which she describes as “ultra-contemporary”.
Lucy Bull’s painting 8:50 am, a vibrant abstraction executed on an elongated horizontal canvas, set a new record for the 32-year-old artist whose works have been compared to those of Max Ernst and Howard Hodgkin. Sold by an Asian collector, it went for HK$11.4 million ($1.5 million), more than seven times its high estimate of HK$1.5 million ($192,000).
The sale follows Bull’s small group exhibition at David Kordansky in 2021, on the heels of other solo presentations in Arles and Los Angeles that have seen his large-scale canvases attract the attention of collectors. It only hit the auction circuit last month, when Sotheby’s sold its 2019 abstraction Special guest for $907,200, where it sold for 15 times its estimate of $60,000.
Alongside Bull, a 2019 chart by Trey Abdella set a new record. When selling, Some things aren’t worth the wait (2019), in which a cartoonish bald figure is shown gouging out his eyes in a blurry office scene, sold for HK$2.6 million ($337,100). The stage prize precedes Abdella’s first institutional solo exhibition, at the X Museum in Beijing, scheduled for 2022. He had his first solo exhibition at Berlin’s König Gallery in 2020 and another at its Seoul outpost next. year.
Like Bull and Abdella, Japanese artist Ayako Rokkaku Untitled (2019) followed a similar path. Done in pink hues with a finger painting technique, one of Rokkaku’s barely visible Kawaii-inspired teenage girls appears on the canvas, which the artist repeats throughout his work. The painting sold for 8.1 million Hong Kong dollars ($1 million), almost four times its low estimate at Phillips, benefiting from the momentum gained from its display at the Dutch Jan van der Togt museum. the same year he was executed.