Cristina BanBan - New Now London Thursday, December 8, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “I would say that the heaviness has always been a characteristic of my distorted bodies. I like to think that providing these women with exaggerated forms emphasises their character, power, and confidence – they occupy the canvas unapologetically and stand proudly, representing how we want women to represent themselves in the 21st century.”
    —Cristina BanBan


    Cristina BanBan’s sumptuously painted large-scale canvases are a celebration of the female form. Aiming to empower her subject matter, the women in BanBan’s oeuvre are based on a combination of self-reflection, pure imagination, and real friends and acquaintances of the artist, but they are all united in the way they proudly take up space. Forms which fill the canvas are a recurrent motif in BanBan’s work. This bold approach to portraiture has contributed to the artist’s meteoric rise to fame and the international acclaim her work has received following institutional exhibitions at the Columbus Museum of Art and Hamburg Kunsthalle in 2021 and solo shows at Perrotin in Paris and Skarstedt in New York this year.


    Updating from 2018 is a joyous example of the artist’s monumental works. Rendered in a palette of sugary tones, two female figures are captured from behind in the bouncing step of a run, each with one leg raised at the knee and the other foot hovering just off the ground, their long hair flowing behind them. The gentle touch of the hands and the soft s-curve in their stance is reminiscent of the contrapposto compositional technique developed across classical sculpture and revived during the Renaissance period. BanBan’s figures are comparable to countless representations of the ‘Three Graces’ through history, but perhaps most famously as portrayed by Sandro Botticelli in the left side of his 1477-1478 masterpiece La Primavera.



    Sandro Botticelli, La Primavera (detail of The Three Graces), 1477 – 1478, Galleria defli Uffizi, Florence. Image: Luisa Ricciarini / Bridgeman Images


    Though drawing on classical and art historical archetypes, BanBan includes certain markers in her work to place her characters firmly in the 21st Century. In a 2018 interview, she said ‘I am interested in depicting everyday scenes that are familiar to the 21st Century spectator. I do this by creating characters that the viewer will recognise in some way or another.’ In Updating, BanBan’s women share physical attributes with Botticelli’s Venuses through their voluptuous forms, serene facial expressions, and gentle movements, but where the Three Graces are draped in classical chiffon robes and bare feet, BanBan’s are dressed in minimal athletic clothing, trainers, shorts and a sports bra, firmly contextualising them within our contemporary, exercise-focussed culture.


    BanBan imbues her paintings with the subtle shifts in light and atmosphere taken from her immediate environment. The artist has previously commented that in 2018 - the year of the present work’s execution - the summer was unusually warm, brining a new light into her studio and influencing the warmth of her palette during this period, evident here perhaps in the uplifting combinations of pinks, yellows, and peaches used in Updating.


    • Provenance

      Kristin Hjellegjerde, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Kristin Hjellegjerde, Audun Alvestad and Cristina BanBan: Specially Normal, 29 March - 28 April 2018

    • Literature

      Lara Monro, 'Cristina BanBan', Coeval Magazine, 10 August 2018, online (illustrated)



signed with the artist's initials 'CB' lower right; signed, titled and dated 'CRISTINA BANBAN 'UPDATING' 2018' on the reverse
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
180 x 150.2 cm (70 7/8 x 59 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £132,300

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993


New Now

London Auction 8 December 2022