Doron Langberg - New Now London Thursday, December 8, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “Using intense colours and different paint textures and marks to create these everyday scenes, I want to connect with a viewer by speaking to our most basic commonalities – our bodies, our relationships, our interiority – rather than the social categories that may separate us.”
    —Doron Langberg 

    Two seated figures occupy the interior scene of Doron Langberg’s large-scale composition Mark and Aubrey. Bold colours, contrasting patterns, and a washed texture make this piece a prime example of the artist’s signature figurative style, in which he finds a communion between colour, pattern, and form to explore new ways of describing the human experience.


    By rendering resemblances between formal qualities, such as the striking red of the table which contrasts with the deeper blue hues in a similar way to the black and white variation of the tiled flooring, he creates, in his own words, a ‘colour world’ which exists within a moment in time.As with most of his paintings, this encapsulates an intimate, human event - in the case of Mark and Aubrey, two men who occupy a space together as psychological as it is physical. Although they do not hold each other’s gaze, the synergy of the canvas creates an ambience which communicates their physical, emotional, and intellectual closeness on a more intuitive level. The extreme flattening of perspective here allows their bodies to overlap, while Langberg’s symbiotic treatment of colour charges the canvas with vitality as objects and figures alike appear to vibrate with energy, communicating a sense of deep harmony and affection. In this way, the viewer is invited to not only instinctively understand the atmosphere of the space, but also the internal worlds of the figures and their shared state of being. As the figure behind the table casually yet intently makes eye contact with us, we realise that the position we occupy as viewers is not voyeuristic but participatory, rupturing preconceived notions of spectator-subject relationship.


    As Langberg invites us to relate to the human subject matter in his piece, so does he ask us to join him in considering a concurrent theme in his work, queer identity and community. The rich visual language developed in his compositions - notable here in the strong, confident use of colour and diverse textures and marks - speak forcefully to the universal sensations of desire, touch, and intimacy. This is especially apparent in the vibrant, blood-red hues used in the table at the centre of the work, evocative of desire, passion, and the corporeal. More inconclusive areas of paint - including the teapot, cup, and areas of the figure’s bodies - react against objectivity and create a fluid space. This sense of ambiguity defies categorisation and leads to a visual dialect which describes the queer experience as a subjective ‘way of being in the world’, one which rejects a sense of otherness or definitive characterisation.ii


    Pierre Bonnard, La Terrasse á Vernonnet, (The Terrace at Vernonnet), 1939, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: Bridgeman Images

    Whilst referencing R.B. Kitaj as an influence behind his work, Langberg’s oeuvre is often more closely associated with post-Impressionist artists through its formal and symbolic qualities. Moving away from Impressionism to more abstract ways of portraying the world, such artists searched for formal compatibilities within the paint surface which were often emblematic, a key similarity with Langberg’s own artistic process. Like Pierre Bonnard’s The Terrace at Vernonnet, which depicts a twilight scene through a unison of hazy purples and earthy oranges, Mark and Aubrey similarly dismisses the scientific application of colour in favour of conveying the essence of the moment.


    Édouard Vuillard is another major inspiration for the artist, especially in his depiction of interior, domestic scenes such as Interior, mother and sister of the artist where the boundaries between his subjects and their immediate environment are dissolved in favour of blended passages of colour and duplication of patterned elements. This quality is only made more emphatic by the sister’s dress which both varies and merges with the decorative wall surface, an optical illusion during which she appears to pulsate in and out of focus. Similarly, the adoption of a radically flattened perspective achieved through intersecting planes of colour and pattern evident in the steep angle of the wallpaper and awkwardly positioned chest of drawers is referenced in Langberg’s composition here, the slanted tiled flooring forcing the figures to the very surface of this shallow composition. In both cases, an unnaturalistic yet intimate rendering of the physical space is favoured, elevating the subject and bringing it closer to the viewer’s own space in a way ‘that feels convincing, but at the same time does not play by the rules of natural depiction.’iii


    Édouard Vuillard, Intérieur, mère et sœur de l'artiste (Interior, mother and sister of the artist), 1893, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: Bridgeman Images


    A prolific force within an emerging group of contemporary figurative artists, Doron Langberg has exhibited at institutions such as the Detroit Museum of New Art; the Schwules Museum, Berlin; and the Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York; amongst others. Works of his form a part of permanent collections which include the ICA Miami, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was awarded the Yale Schoelkopf Travel Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters John Koch award for painting and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. In 2015, Mark and Aubrey was exhibited in the group show, Doron Langberg and Gaby Collins-Fernandez, which took place at the Danese/Corey Gallery in New York.


    i Doron Langberg, ‘Doron Langberg, Sept 2015’, September 2015, online.

    ii Doron Langberg, quoted in “Doron Langberg: Alex Katz Chair in Painting Artist Talk”, The Cooper Union, November 17 2021, online.

    iii Doron Langberg, ‘Doron Langberg, Sept 2015, September 2015, online.

    • Provenance

      Danese/Corey, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Danese/Corey, Doron Langberg and Gaby Collins-Fernandez, 20 November - 23 December 2015, pp. 1 and 9 (illustrated)


Mark and Aubrey

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'DL 2015' on the overlap
oil on linen
203.2 x 101.8 cm (80 x 40 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £75,600

Contact Specialist

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


New Now

London Auction 8 December 2022