En Iwamura - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle Hong Kong Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Marking En Iwamura’s largest work at auction to date, Blue Astronaut is a paramount example of the Kyoto -born artist’s acclaimed ceramic sculptures decorted with distinctive woven lines that share the same texture as karesansui Zen gardens. Standing proud at just shy of 1 metre tall, a royal blue figure confronts the viewer with hollow, circular eyes, a dainty nose, and a slight downturned mouth. Spikey strands of hair frame their face, peeking out from beneath a hat adorned with a round ball at the front which takes the shape of a front-knotted head wrap or bobble beanie. The head cover also recalls the appearance of Smurfs—particularly when paired with the blue. With eclectic features and attributes, Blue Astronaut is at once whimsical and endearing, emanating an ambiguity that invites viewers to craft their own narrative.

     

    Gos Peyo, The Astrosmurf, 1970

    Gos Peyo, The Astrosmurf, 1970


    As showcased by Blue Astronaut, Iwamura’s practice seamlessly blends the traditional with the contemporary. To create his works, the artist has mastered the technique of coil building—a form of sculpting deriving from the traditional wazumi method used for haniwa funerary figures and Jōmon pots, in which form is moulded from mound of looped clay. Without relying on preparatory sketches, however, Iwamura simply jumps in, rolling strips of clay over his framework into a coil, layer by layer, until he sees lines start to emerge. Describing the process as ‘3-dimensional doodling’, Iwamura finds that ‘subject, themes, contents… [come] after touching the material’; expressing that the ‘form [he] make[s] is kind of a conversation between [the artist] and clay’ i.
     

     

    Haniwa terracotta warrior tomb figure, from Kamichujo in Saitama prefecture, Japan, Kofun period Collection of the Tokyo National Museum

    Haniwa terracotta warrior tomb figure, from Kamichujo in Saitama prefecture, Japan, Kofun period
    Collection of the Tokyo National Museum

    Once he has moulded shape out of the clay and scored lines onto its surface, Iwamura puts the sculpture into a kiln before adding colourful glaze. Finally, the artwork is placed into the kiln for one concluding round. Both tricky and elaborate, the entire process is reliant on the artist’s patience as individual pieces can take days or even weeks to complete.

    And yet, whilst Iwamura’s work is undeniably influenced by the ancient history of his medium, he simultaneously draws from his interest in manga, anime, movies, and videogames, bridging the old and new to allow for his works to be accessible to not just a global audience across various cultures, but also for audiences to come.

     


    En Iwamura discussing his practice, 2020

     

    Iwamura received his BFA and first MFA from the Kanazawa College of Art and Craft in Kanazawa, Japan in 2011 and 2013, respectively, and his second MFA from Clemson University in 2016. Represented by Ross+Kramer Gallery, Iwamura’s work has been presented in a number of solo shows. This includes at their East Hampton location in 2018, of which the present work was included, as well as in 2020.

    Most recently, WOAW Gallery in Hong Kong showcased Iwamura’s work during a solo exhibition titled URLANDSCHAFT, which ran from 16 May – 29 June 2022.

     
    i En Iwamura, quoted in Beatrice Helman, ‘Interview with En Iwamura’, maake, online

    • Provenance

      Ross+Kramer Gallery, East Hampton
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2018

    • Exhibited

      East Hampton, Ross+Kramer Gallery, En Iwamura: New Works, 18 - 31 August 2018

193

Blue Astronaut

ceramic
97 x 35.5 x 28 cm. (38 1/4 x 13 7/8 x 11 in.)
Executed in 2018, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$350,000 - 550,000 
€43,600-68,500
$44,900-70,500

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2022