Anna Park - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, June 22, 2022 | Phillips

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    Working almost exclusively within a monochromatic palette, Anna Park’s charcoal and graphite creations are visually arresting, kaleidoscopic stills, ones which dangle at the precipice between reverie and memory, straddling figuration and abstraction. Each work contains angular, fragmented bodies stuffed to the brim, as we are met with familiar scenes from shared memories of parties, barbeques, musical performances—vestiges of ‘humanity at its finest’, according to the artist.i Though still in her twenties, Park’s mature oeuvre has already become part of the collection of Brian Donnelly (KAWS) (having seen Park’s work displayed at the New York Academy of Art), as well as that of institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. The artist has also had recent solo exhibitions at Blum & Poe Gallery in Tokyo, and Half Gallery, New York.




    Installation from Anna Park’s recent show Hello, Stranger at Blum & Poe Gallery, Tokyo, 1 September – 9 October 2021

    “Rather than depicting any specific moments, I want to present instances of uncertain chaos…I guess it's kind of how I feel with a lot of things that happen; where a level of anxiety goes hand-in-hand with the unpredictable nature of life.”
    — Anna Park 


    Chaos Through the Looking Glass


    Anna Park’s pieces remind one of giddy mirages from a night of unfettered debauchery—each image possesses the qualities of peering through glass, as characters and objects become warped or exaggerated. According to the artist, she first trawls the internet for stock imagery as inspiration, then zeroes in on aspects of the photos that draw her in the most, and finally integrates imagination with the pieces she finds: 'I find it funny how searching up such benign statements on the internet provides an endless amount of unexpected (and at times disturbing) content.' ii The results are not unlike that which can be found in I to I. In the present work, a pair of women seem to be swaying arm in arm, as a male figure can be seen off to their side, either trying to engage in the pair, or to clasp onto one of them. It is unclear whether this attention is unwarranted, and an onlooker peers in the background, their eyes darting towards the scene.



     Detail of the present work


    Though ever so subtle, Park’s work is embedded with a clever cynicism that perhaps even critiques our contemporary society. I to I, so reminiscent of an intrusive, unplanned paparazzi-angled shot, forces its viewer to confront an uncertain setting: are we looking at two celebrities in varying levels of inebriation, stumbling out of or into a limousine, clutching their jewellery and purses, firmly steered by their bodyguard? Or, are we to fret for the unsteady women, scantily clad, being cajoled by a male bystander? Park’s puzzling work is filled with intrigue and deliberately so—her work quite literally captures the ‘grey areas’ of society, provoking us with their ambiguity. Even in her vague title, I to I, one thinks of the homophonic ‘eye to eye’—who is not seeing eye to eye, then? Or are we to believe that someone is suffering from some sort of internal turmoil, not seeing “I to I” with themselves?


    Blurring the Divide


    Born in South Korea in 1996, the artist moved to the US with her family as a child. Drawing was a constant in her childhood, and into adulthood, after having left Pratt’s illustration and animation programme in favour of the New York Academy of Art’s more traditional art school education, Park’s work became wholly dedicated to the use of charcoal. She was drawn in to 'the quickness, the forgivingness' of charcoal, remarking on its malleability. Citing Cecily Brown as an early influence, Park would often create her own work with Brown’s catalogues open near her, her interviews playing in the background.

    Like some other abstract artists, Park’s works began more figurative and loyal to their source material before they became their current iterations. Speaking on her creative process, the artist has commented: 'In the past, my work had been a lot more tightly rendered and it rarely deviated from the references I was working from. Gradually, I began to distort and abstract certain parts of the pieces that seemed to celebrate the mark making of charcoal more. It was only in the most recent body of work that I introduced a cartoon/caricature element, which reminded me of the characters I would draw as a little kid.' iii By rendering her figures’ faces in cartoonish, ghoulish ways allows for an exaggerated treatment of the emotions and gestures of her characters—thrown into drastic contrast against the realistic backgrounds they are placed in. This juxtaposition can be keenly felt in I to I, where hyper-realistic details such as a clasped phone, the outlines of a hair scrunchie, a pronounced acrylic nail, all heavily differ from the smeared and drawn out faces of the individuals portrayed. All the above is paired with the artist’s reclaiming of charcoal—perhaps more associated with draftsmanship and sketching—a medium that specifically allows for the whimsical, dreamlike effect of Park’s style.  


     “[F]or now, charcoal and graphite are my primary mediums. I feel as though the immediacy of charcoal really allows me to see my ideas come to life as soon as I conceive it. Being such a simple, straight forward medium, it presents a challenge to myself in how many different possibilities I can create visually with it.”
    — Anna Park


    Having garnered increasing attention, Anna Park has spoken about her need for introspection: she has indicated dedicating time to hone her technique, or perhaps to explore her Korean heritage in future works. Curiously, in Park’s affinity for using charcoal as her chosen means of creation, she has engaged with a Korean tradition that views the material as possessing the power to keep out evil forces. The cultural significance of this comes as an unexpected link to exorcising “the chaotic, suffocating side” of society which has become part and parcel of Park’s work. Beyond the mere prowess of the artist’s hand, Park’s feverish compositions tiptoe close to social commentary, their evocations of various cultural moments sparking the imaginations of so many viewers.



    Collector’s Digest


    Excerpt from Sasha Bogojev, ‘A Conversation With Anna Park’, Juxtapoz, 13 May 2019:

    Sasha Bogojev: Could you please describe your work process in terms of composing an image as well as a technical approach to drawing it on paper?

    Anna Park: From the time I find an image that I like to the time I start drawing is not a very long time. I rarely do a lot of preliminary sketches; I think due to the fact that I'm just antsy to get started on a big sheet of paper. I begin by laying things out in a very gestural way and then I'll add in elements from other references if they seem to fit the composition. How I want the viewer's eye to travel around the piece is something that is always in the back of my mind.

    S.B.: Do you see your work as humorous, provocative, a critique, or something else?

    A.P.: I would see my work like snapshots into things we are all pretty used to; just in a demonic (and hopefully funny) light.

    S.B.: What is the type of reaction or feedback you're hoping to get from the viewer?

    A.P.: I hope to elicit some sense of familiarity with the viewer. Whether this reminds them of a party they've been to, or just being able to recognize any of the characters as their own self or someone they know. Or if anything, I hope they get a bit of a laugh out of it.



    i The artist quoted in Tess Thackara, ‘Anna Park’s Charcoal Drawings of the End of the World Have Earned Her Fans From Top Curators to KAWS. At 25, She’s Just Getting Started’, Artnet News, 12 October 2021
    ii The artist quoted in Sasha Bogojev, ‘A Conversation With Anna Park’, Juxtapoz, 13 May 2019
    iii Ibid.

    • Provenance

      Over the Influence, Los Angeles
      Private Collection, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


I to I

charcoal and graphite on panel
182.8 x 121.4 cm. (71 7/8 x 47 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

HK$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for HK$2,268,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 22 June 2022