Ayako Rokkaku - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Born 1982 in Chiba‐shi, a town situated in the greater Tokyo area, Ayako Rokkaku began painting in 2002. Having never attended art school, Rokkaku developed her own painting technique consisting simply of using her bare hands and fingertips to apply acrylic onto canvas. Moving beyond traditional media, Rokkaku transforms material ranging from cardboard to vintage Louis Vuitton suitcases to layered acetate and wool, creating works of art which hum with an explosive rainbow energy.


    Evoking the carefree mark‐making of children, Rokkaku’s works incorporate elements of impressionism in their thickly applied streaks of colour, which commingle and combine into vast dreamlike fantasies, rippling as fertile meadows in spring breeze.



    Claude Monet
    Claude Monet, The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, 1900
    Collection of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris


    With a performer’s fervour, Rokkaku darts back and forth before her massive canvases,

    using only her hands as she navigates the blank space, pulling streams of bright colours from her imagination. Rokkaku commented, '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. Sometimes reaching 23 feet, her canvases engulf the viewer in a pastel paradise filled with largely female figures with large saucers for eyes and wide lines for lips. Often creating her works live at art fairs, Rokkaku surrenders herself to the cathartic act of painting and performance, offering the viewer more than the artwork itself, but a chance to glimpse into the dynamic interaction between the creator and her creation.


    In line with the canon of Japanese anime and its culture of kawaii, Rokkaku’s girls are immensely charming. Yet, despite the cheery appearance of her works, Rokkaku’s paintings are deceptive. A glint of dissatisfaction or impetuousness lurking behind the seeming innocence of her girls allude to the emotional turmoil rippling beneath the rainbow surface. Suspended in an indeterminant space, Rokkaku’s children stand half emerged, half swallowed, by the surrounding environment, set within a world of perpetual growth and movement. The metamorphosing, playful surfaces adhere to a lineage of Japanese aesthetics, celebrating the pleasures of the spontaneous and the occasional, while also addressing the potential threats to the purity of children.



    Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled ARP 18‐022
    Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled ARP 18‐022, 2018
    Sold by Philips Hong Kong for $3,528,000 in June 2021
    © Ayako Rokkaku 


    Rokkaku’s use of child‐like and animal characters to explore the complexities of human emotion bears many similarities to the works of Japanese contemporary art giant Yoshitomo Nara, though more gestural and vibrant, if not less serious. Leaving elements of her board or canvas uncovered, Rokkaku’s practice tends to emphasise the physicality of her process and medium, aligning her with the likes of Aya Takano more than the ‘superflat’ works of Takashi Murakami or Chiho Aoshima.


    Rokkaku has been represented worldwide by Gallery Delaive since 2006 and has had numerous solo exhibitions worldwide including at the Museum Jan van der Togt, Amstelveen, Netherlands; Complexcon, Los Angeles; and the Venice Biennale. She was awarded the prestigious Akio Goto Prize in 2006 and the Illustration Prize at Geisai art fair in 2003, which was founded by Kaikai Kiki studio. Rokkaku’s works are currently included in the collections of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanasawa, Japan; Sehwa Museum of Art, Korea; Voorlinden Museum, Netherlands, and Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Slovakia. Her recent solo exhibitions took place at König Galerie, Berlin and Gallery Trax, Tokyo. Rokkaku currently lives and works alternately in Berlin, Porto, Tokyo and Amsterdam.


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


    • Provenance

      Gallery Delaive, Amsterdam
      Private Collection, Europe
      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



Untitled ARP 07-013

signed and dated '2007 Ayako Rokkaku [in Japanese]' lower left
acrylic on canvas
200 x 300 cm. (78 3/4 x 118 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2007.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for HK$6,300,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021