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

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  • After making her auction debut at in Asia at Phillips in Hong Kong with the 2021 sale of Appropriation (2018), which nearly tripled its pre-sale estimates, in Untitled the Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz proposes another declination of her distinctive still life depictions, verdant growths which seem to emerge from and take over female human figures.


    This 2017 work—a prime example of her unique approach to portraiture—showcases a woman’s head, of which viewers can only see a portion of hair and forehead. Atop this, a swirling, tightly clumped group of plants sprouts and grows abundantly. The plant cluster’s roots expand across the scalp and are entangled with the locks of hair, as if the latter, wet and humid as soil, constitute a fertile ground for vegetation and foliage.


    A parallel can be drawn between Juszkiewicz’s Untitled and Gustave Courbet’s Head of a Woman with Flowers (1871) for the way in which vegetal elements gloriously arise from a woman’s head, evoking the image of rebellious, strong and courageous thoughts and ideas which grow and spread outside of these subjects’ minds.


    Gustave Courbet, Head of a Woman with Flowers, 1871
    Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia



    In order to execute the present work, Juszkiewicz covered a model head in leaves, to then treat it as if painting a still life. The artist created another artwork with a similar composition from the same model later acquired by MOCAK (the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Poland) currently housed in their permanent collection. The choice to work on a model head provocatively alludes to a time when women artists were denied access to the study of human anatomy and had to turn their attention to botanical objects.


    My painting is the result of a little bit of contrariness; a desire to break free from the norm imposed on us by our fashion and culture
    Ewa Juszkiewicz

    Juszkiewicz’s art practice directly challenges the way in which women figures have been conventionally depicted throughout art history as passive symbols of docile beauty, purity and perfection. By covering their faces with mysterious and at times unsettling masks—created from strands of hair, greenery, and pieces of fabric—the painter awakens one’s sense of grotesque and otherworldly imagery, encouraging viewers to explore the complexity and intricacy of female subjects beyond mere reassuring and stereotypical representations.


    In Untitled, the layering of plants which sits on the woman’s head combines vivid, bright green leaves with ones that are starting to wither and brown. This flawed, realistic depiction disrupts and deliberately subverts the idea of eternal youth and immaculateness assigned to women subjects in Renaissance and classical art by male artists and their male audiences.


    Juszkiewicz, one of the most celebrated contemporary Polish painters, holds a PhD from the Akademia Sztuk Pięknych im. Her work has been shown in exhibitions at Gagosian, New York (17 November 2020 – 4 January 2021) and Almine Rech in Paris (4 September – 9 October 2021) and London (18 June – 31 July 2020).


    Her artworks are part of the museum collections of the National Museum in Gdańsk, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, BWA Galeria Bielska in Bielsko and Zachęta of Contemporary Art in Szczecin, Poland.

    • Provenance

      lokal_30 Gallery, Warsaw
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed and dated 'Ewa Juszkiewicz 2017' on the reverse
oil on canvas
89.9 x 74.6 cm. (35 3/8 x 29 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

HK$3,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for HK$4,032,000

Contact Specialist

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

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

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2022