Genieve Figgis - Wired: Online Auction London Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Genieve Figgis’ small- to mid-scale paintings are enigmatic tableaux that fuse satire with real, lifelike depictions. Whilst undeniably contemporary in style, the painter’s gem-like compositions reference a wealth of narrative and period paintings, featuring lavish chandeliers, frescoed ceilings and regal costumes. Rendered with diluted, watery brushstrokes, these images seem suspended in time: they recall the aesthetic of Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya and François Boucher, but also the paintings of Elizabeth Peyton, Cecily Brown and Dana Schutz.

    ‘I love looking at ideas of the past in Old Masters. They were made to tell you a story. Some of the portraits have the authority and theatricality... I enjoy looking at people from the past and how they portrayed themselves.’ — Genieve Figgis

    With Lady with a Dog, Figgis plays with the line that separates figuration from abstraction. Set against a subtle gradation of browns and blacks, and rendered with approximate, moody brushstrokes, the eponymous lady exudes an air of uncanniness, whilst simultaneously radiating the splendor of her accessorial embellishments. Indeed, Figgis’ aristocratic figures often vacillate between the great and the grotesque: they sport superb adornments, yet grin foolishly and spill over — merging obliviously with their surroundings. In the present work, the titular figure’s body trickles into abstraction, resonating with Riccardo Venturi’s belief that, ‘Figgis’s protagonists seem to appear in trembling reflections, as if in the ripples of a pond after someone has tossed a stone’. (Riccardo Venturi, ‘Genieve Figgis’, Artforum, April 2018, online.)

    In true contemporary fashion, Figgis’ career began on Twitter, when a display of her artworks on the platform caught the attention of the artist Richard Prince. After starting a family, Figgis only began studying Fine Arts at the Gorey School of Art in Wexford at the age of 30, mesmerised by the experimental nature of painting and the medium’s long attachment to history and representation to the figure. ‘Painting is about pleasure. If it weren’t pleasurable, I wouldn’t do it. For a long time I’ve been pouring paint – the medium’s unpredictability is the addiction for me…’ explains Figgis. (Genieve Figgis quoted in Olivia Parkes, ‘The Irish Artist Attacking the Female Figure with Paint’, Vice, 23 October 2015, online.) To Figgis, the painting is her stage and the story she paints happens by chance, allowing her to invent and direct as she goes along.


Lady with a Dog

signed and dated 'Genieve Figgis 2010' on the reverse
acrylic on board
35.2 x 21.9 cm (13 7/8 x 8 5/8 in.)
Painted in 2010.

£18,000 - 25,000 

Sold for £88,200

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Wired: Online Auction

Online Auction 10 - 18 February 2021