Ayako Rokkaku - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in association with Yongle Hong Kong Thursday, December 1, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Introduction 


    Featuring dazzling colours and a myriad of whimsical creatures, Ayako Rokkaku’s Untitled (2012) is an early exemplar of the artist’s kaleidoscopic, enchanting paintings from the artist’s prolific oeuvre. The artist populates her vivid wonderlands with spirited characters, flourishing nature and her signature Kawaii (cute) adolescent girls.


    Evoking carefree mark-making often seen in children’s drawings, Rokkaku’s painterly surfaces recall elements of impressionism in its thick layers of impasto. Spontaneous, staccato brushstrokes commingle and combine into vast dreamlike fantasies, as if lush meadows rippling under a gentle spring breeze. Shifting between abstraction and figuration, Rokkaku introduces intriguing plays of form and streams of bright colour into her fantastical world, her characters continually assuming new shapes within a dynamic landscape.



    Detail of the present lot


    Dancing through the woods, our main protagonist in Untitled is accompanied by a whole cast of animal friends. She cheekily tucks away one of them in her dress pocket, bringing it along on her paradisiacal journey through the swaying cotton candy trees and rich mushroom forests. The current work was also exhibited at the artist’s solo museum exhibition at the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava in 2012.



    Installation view of the current work at Bratislava, Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum,
    Ayako Rokkaku: Where the smell comes from, 23 September - 9 December 2012
    Image: Archive Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum.


    In Interview: The World at her Fingertips


    “I don’t feel I’m really painting unless my hands are in direct contact with the paint. It’s more fun that way.”
    — Ayako Rokkaku


    Entirely self taught, Rokkaku’s artistic practice is anchored through the artist’s touch. Dancing across large canvases, Rokkaku smears dazzling swirls of colour directly with her bare hands and fingertips, capturing the speed and verve in which she creates. Highly intuitive, Rokkaku refrains from being confined by rules of conventional painting, immersing herself fully during her painting process without an underlying plan. Allowing her motifs to develop during the process, the act of painting becomes performative: ‘I love painting something that is much bigger than I am. Moving to and fro between the corners of such a huge canvas makes me feel as if the colours are flowing through my body.’ i



    In 2022, Rokkkau spoke with Autre Magazine on this hands-on creative process:


    Autre Magazine: As a self-taught artist, when did you realise that working with your fingers and hands helped you produce your painterly, impressionistic visions on canvas?


    Ayako Rokkaku: When I was 20 years old and when I hadn't got my style yet, I participated in an event in Tokyo for amateur artists for the first time. I did live painting there. I prepared some materials (brush, pen, crayon, paper, etc) and tried some methods of painting. I was painting on the used cardboard on the floor with acrylic paint on my hand and it came to me. I felt that I was able to leave a trace of something like an improvisational and primitive impulse on the cardboard and it fit me well.


    Autre:Your paintings are fully realised and mature, but there is a very childlike freedom to them. Did you paint when you were a child and what did you paint or draw?


    AR: I liked drawing when I was a child, and I remember I liked putting colours more.

    It feels fun when the paper gets vivid and lively as I put more colours on it. But it was after I grew up when I started to look carefully and think more about children’s drawing. I’m trying to keep the impression of pureness and freedom like children’s drawing in my works.


    Autre:Who are some Japanese or international artists that inspired you growing up?


    AR: I’m impressed by Cy Twombly, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning. I also like Monet, Klee, Matisse, etc…


    Autre:There has been a tradition of artists painting as performance. For instance, Yves Klein — is there a particular difference between painting in front of a crowd versus the solitary environment of a studio?


    AR: I'm happy to be able to share the time and process when a painting is born, not only a finished work with the people there. It makes me feel like I'm drawing with the energy of the people there. And it is fun for me, by continuing to paint without thinking too much and without fear of failure in a limited time, sometimes unexpected techniques and motifs are born. On the other hand, when painting alone in the studio, it feels like playing — catching the energy ball between the canvas and myself.


    Read the full interview here



    Collector’s Digest


    Born 1982 in Chiba, Japan, Ayako Rokkaku began her artistic career in 2002, during her early twenties. Rokkaku quickly established herself on the international art scene after exhibiting at the 9th edition of the Geisai art fair in 2006 and was awarded the prestigious Akio Goto Prize, founded by Kaikai KiKi Studio which is led by art world giant, Takashi Murakami.


    In 2018, Phillips Hong Kong was the first to bring Rokkaku to the eyes of the market with a selling exhibition, Sam Francis, Walasse Ting & Ayako Rokkaku: Perpetual Colours, selling out before the first day of the opening. Since then, demand for the artist has exploded internationally. Rokkaku’s works are included in the permanent collections of the Powerlong Art Museum, China; Sehwa Museum of Art, South Korea;  the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan; and the Voorlinden Museum, Netherlands, amongst others. 


    Rokkaku’s recent exhibitions include solo presentation, Born in the Fluffy Journey with Konig Galerie, Berlin (2021) and her institutional show with the Chiba Prefectural Museum of Art, Magic Hand (2021). Rokkaku currently lives and works in multiple cities, travelling between Porto, Berlin, Tokyo, and Amsterdam. She is represented by Gallery Delaive, Amsterdam.



    Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled, 2019
    Sold by Phillips Hong Kong for HKD8,115,000, 22 June 2022


    i Ayako Rokkaku, as quoted in: ‘Ayako Rokkaku: "Fumble in Colors, Tiny Discoveries"', Markets Insider, 15 August 2019, online

    • Provenance

      Gallery Delaive, Amsterdam
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Bratislava, Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Ayako Rokkaku: Where the smell comes from, 23 September - 9 December 2012




signed and dated '2012 Rokkaku Ayako [in Japanese]' lower right
acrylic on canvas
142.2 x 225.3 cm. (55 7/8 x 88 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2012.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

Sold for HK$2,394,000

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in association with Yongle

Hong Kong Auction 1 December 2022