Donna Huanca - Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction London Monday, March 15, 2021 | Phillips
  • "Skin is a universal tissue that connects all humans."1In this sensuous print by Donna Huanca, a photographic representation of body and its materials – skin, flesh and hair – are interwoven with sand, oil stick and the language of abstraction. At the heart of Huanca’s interdisciplinary practice, which spans painting, sculpture, performance, choreography, video and sound, is the exploration of the human body and its relationship to space and identity.  In performance, the naked body is exposed and concealed using a variety of materials that explore skin as a threshold: clay, latex, turmeric and paint. Models stand straight and still, but are unchoreographed and with agency to decide their route.

    "I want to show women in a powerful way, with complete agency. All the performances are improvised, they move in their own pace... evoking an image of women that is powerful and still is in contrast to what is expected. It is not theatre, there is no timeline." 2Huanca’s two-dimensional practice is fundamentally linked to the performative elements of her oeuvre. In OBSIDIAN LADDER, a photograph of the performers’ decorated bodies is transposed to paper, where it has been reworked with oil stick. As in her large-scale canvases, here gesture is enlarged and amplified to create a surface tension and contrast between textures. The goosebumps of the skin – rendered flat through photographic reproduction – interact with the texture of the oil stick mixed with sand in a surprising combination that renders the body familiar and distorted, decorative and abstract.


    Colour is important for Huanca, who explores its expressive potential through a range of blues, minty greens, whites, yellows and oranges. The choice of palette derives directly from the majesty of the natural world, of “geology and birds of paradise, natural formations of colour that are unexpected and rare.”


    Titled OBSIDIAN LADDER, this print was created to coincide with Huanca’s first large-scale exhibition of Huanca’s work in the United States at the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles.

  • Artist biography:


    Donna Huanca (b. 1980, Chicago) grew up between Chicago and Bolivia and lives and works in Berlin. She has had numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including at the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles (2019), The Belvedere Museum, Vienna (2018), Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2018),  the Zabludowicz Collection, London (2016), and MoMA PS1 (2014). She was honoured by the Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C as an Artist Honoree in 2016, and her work is in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Belvedere Collection, Vienna, The Rubell Family Collection, Miami and the Zabludowicz Collection, London. 

    1 L. Venus, ‘In Conversation with Donna Huanca’, CURA Magazine, February 2018,

    2 Donna Huanca Interview: Disrupting The Male Gaze, Louisiana Channel, 16 May 2019:

    • Description

      Photo: Matthias Kolb

      Condition reports, Lot descriptions and information in respect of Lots included in this Online-Only Auction have been prepared exclusively by Whitechapel Gallery following Whitechapel Gallery’s assessment of the Lots. Phillips and its staff are not responsible in any way for such statements, representations or opinions or for any other information provided in respect of the Lots, whether by Whitechapel Gallery, on Phillips website or in any other form.

    • Provenance

      Donation courtesy of Peres Projects and Simon Lee Gallery



signed and dated 'Donna Huanca 2019' on the reverse; numbered '#12 of 30 + 10 AP' on a gallery label affixed to the reverse
sand and oil stick on digital print
80 x 60 cm (31 1/2 x 23 5/8 in.)
Executed in 2019, this work is number 12 from an edition of 30 plus 10 artist's proofs.

Full Cataloguing

£2,000 - 3,000 


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Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction

Online Auction 15 - 23 March 2021