Anna Park - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips
  • A symphony of line, form, and shading, Anna Park’s 2018 charcoal drawing Covees dexterously captures the chaotic moment before a performance when cast members prepare before a mirror, donning costumes, makeup, or dressing their hair. Her seemingly effortless use of composition transports the viewer’s eye along the fluid lines of the figures’ arms, faces and torsos. Light illuminates the raised arm of a man fixing his hair in the foreground, and plays upon the face and upper body of a woman leaning on her hand, contrasting with the shadowy background behind her and creating a sense of space and atmosphere. Park’s clear, confident marks draw the viewer into the drama of the scene while simultaneously creating the sense that something momentous is about to occur.

    Coming to auction for the very first time, Covees is an impeccable example of Park’s recurring interest in depicting moments of tense expectation. The title of this work may be a reference to the technical term cove, which in U.S. theatre vernacular refers to lighting positions at the front of the stage. Perhaps the figures in Park’s piece are about to step out into the brilliant stagelight, becoming what she calls 'covees'. Covees also could refer to the urban slang term 'coving', which means to stop in a subtle location and drink, smoke, or do drugs and generally have a good time. Park often depicts debaucherous revelers, and here she may be alluding to the camaraderie that actors share; perhaps her characters will step out into the spotlight to perform and then celebrate afterwards by coving.



    Familiar Mayhem 


    Park’s distinctive visual style establishes a fresh lexicon of Americana art. Motorcycles, cowboy hats, wedding cakes, and fractured figures whirling in stars and stripes explode in an array of splintered shards in her work, providing a fragmented glimpse into the American Dream. The Americana motif prevalent in her work can be traced to the artist’s experience growing up in suburban Utah, while she attributes the turbulent mania of her canvases to the overstimulating environment of her current place of work in New York City. On her life-size and sometimes larger-than-life canvases she depicts scenes that flit between memory and abstraction, a frantic flurry of activity that both transcends the ordinary and reminds the viewer of moments from their everyday lives.


      “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 recognise any of the characters as their own self or someone they know.”
    — Anna Park


    Working primarily with charcoal and graphite, Park’s monumental creations are tumultuous, virtuosic depictions of what she dubs 'humanity at its finest'. She draws inspiration from found images and memories of commonplace scenes such as parties, barbecues, or musical performances, working intuitively to render her subjects in varying degrees of figuration. From nearly photorealistic detail to her signature kaleidoscope abstraction, Park’s dance between the figurative and the nonpictorial draws the viewer into her chaotic, yet eerily familiar visual world.


    “It's almost like our inner demons; we all have that. I think when we're most vulnerable, we can allow ourselves to be kind of [messed] up or allow the things that you would think in private or talk about with your closest friends to come out in public. In these worlds that I create, people are allowed to be that way. And I like that.”
    — Anna Park

    Park seeks to ‘present instances of uncertain chaos’ and portray ‘the unpredictable nature of life’, illustrating the precarious turmoil rampant around us, both internally and in the world at large. Her fractured compositions not only reflect the chaotic nature of everyday life in the 21st century, an era of short attention spans and incessant exposure to information but also highlight the vulnerability and psychological agitation that simmers beneath the surface of everyday life.




    Capturing a Moment through Frenzied Figuration


    Born in South Korea in 1996, Park’s family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah when she was eleven. Park took figure drawing classes with a local art teacher, immersing herself in drawing with charcoal from an early age, and her meticulous yet frenzied manner of depicting the figure is a testament to her rigorous early training. Her more recent work straddles the line between abstraction and representation. She points out that 'the stylistic choice of both abstraction and figuration came as a natural evolution within my practice of drawing. Having come from an education of traditional figure drawing, my way to explore different avenues of drawing was to abstract forms.' Creating the illusion of volume and depth through her angular and sculptural mark-making, Park alludes to the geometric tessellation of Cubism, which consciously seeks to both overcome and imply the inherent flatness of the canvas.



    Left: The present lot
    Right: Pablo Picasso, Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier), 1910
    ​​Image: © The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence,
    Artwork: © 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Park’s organised semi-abstraction of figures, mirrors, and objects in Covees furthermore calls to mind the variegated cacophony of Cecily Brown’s vast canvases. Like Brown, Park’s figures are part of a visually charged yet fragmented world, surrounded by and taking part in feverish activity. Park’s work, however, uniquely comments on American life in a humorous and satirical manner, using abstraction, figuration, and repetition to illustrate the insanity of even the most mundane parts of everyday life, such as a parent-teacher conference, the subject of a 2019 drawing of hers. In Covees, Park seeks to draw the viewer’s attention to the present moment, the tense few minutes of suspense before a performance. She asks the viewer to set aside all distractions of social media, work, and everyday life and let a moment of 'genuine interaction' blossom between viewer and artist.



    Collector’s Digest


    • Anna Park studied animation and illustration at the Pratt Institute before she shifted her focus to developing her work in fine art at the New York Academy of Art. Though still in her twenties, she has become widely acclaimed in the short period since her graduation from art school, and her oeuvre has become part of the permanent collection of several prominent institutions, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; and Pérez Art Museum, Miami. Park’s work is also part of the collection of Brian Donnelly (KAWS), who found her striking artwork displayed at the New York Academy of Art.
    • Park’s solo exhibitions to date include Mirror Shy at Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, CA in 2022; Hello, Stranger at Blum and Poe, Tokyo, Japan in 2021, marking her Asian debut, and Pluck Me Tender at Half Gallery, New York, NY in 2021, amongst others. She has also exhibited at Pond Society, Shanghai, and at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA, both in 2022.
    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2019

    • Literature

      Natasha Arselan, Morgan Everhart, and Matthew Calendar, eds., Friend of the Artist, New York, 2018, vol. 7, n. p. (illustrated)



signed 'ANNA PARK' lower right
charcoal on paper
sheet 183.6 x 131.6 cm. (72 1/4 x 51 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

HK$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for HK$1,524,000

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 30 March 2023