Genieve Figgis - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips
  • Genieve Figgis is a contemporary Irish painter known for her witty and subversive group portraits which satirise social norms of centuries past. Lampooning Western commercial consumption and the bourgeois tastes of the rich middle-class as dutifully captured by artists of the past, Figgis brings such subjects firmly into the present day with a mixture of satire and poignant real depictions of life.


    Portraying women at their toilette was an exclusive style of Rococo portraiture which became extremely popular amongst the bourgeoisie and aspirational classes in mid-18th century France. These richly detailed toilette scenes would be filled with luxury items, lavish furniture and grand costumes - all vital signifiers of the subject’s wealth, sophistication and cultivated tastes as she leisurely prepared herself for an evening of entertainment. In François Boucher’s, Sketch for a Portrait of Madame de Pompadour, the famed mistress of Louis XV rises from her toilette with her hat in hand, her preparations finished and ready for her outing.



    François Boucher, Sketch for a Portrait of Madame de Pompadour, 1750 
    (UK National Trust, Waddesdon Manor)


    In The Powder Room, lushly painted textures and playful details, the hallmarks of Figgis’s work, are all present – the satiny baby blue walls, iridescent pearls, delicately-rendered lace hems and three tiny chihuahuas perched atop the train of a gown. With her ironic yet incisive commentary on high society, Figgis ultimately posits herself as a postmodern chronicler of social and cultural norms and anxieties, and The Powder Room’s bewigged, frothy-gowned subjects do not escape this treatment. Figgis’s signature technique of swirling dripped or thickly applied acrylic paints causes her genteel subjects to melt and bleed where they stand, conveying a ghoulish restlessness. Voluptuous bosoms spill over into lacy tulle confections, whilst vertiginous hairpieces tilt perilously away their owners’ heads. In this surreal, macabre tableau, carefully powdered faces contrast with bulging eyes, whilst delicate white teeth are exposed in lopsided raspberry-red rictus grins.



    Installation view of What we do in the shadows at Almine Rech Brussels 
    Photo: Hugard and Vanoverschelde, © Genieve Figgis, Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech


    An unconventional star in the art world, Figgis was a relative latecomer to painting but caught the attention of the American visual artist Richard Prince on Twitter, who went on to purchase one of her works and introduced her to the New York art scene. She is represented by Almine Rech Gallery in London and Half Gallery in New York.


    • Provenance

      Almine Rech Gallery, London
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brussels, Almine Rech, What we do in the shadows, 3 June - 29 July 2017


The Powder Room

signed and dated 'Genieve Figgis 2017' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
79.6 x 79.6 cm. (31 3/8 x 31 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

HK$600,000 - 900,000 

Sold for HK$2,205,000

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021