Guy Yanai - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Friday, October 6, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Characterised by its bold hues, flat imagery and simplified pictorial planes and subjects, Saint Martin and the Beggar (after Sassetta) is a vibrant example of Guy Yanai’s geometrical paintings. Comprising coloured stripes of varying lengths and orientations, it showcases the artist’s signature smooth brushwork, achieved through his meticulous wielding of a palette knife and brush to attain levelled depths of field. In his present reimagined piece, geometric blocks of pink, red, and blue erase the distinction between foreground and background, and the over all effect is one that is simultaneously abstract yet figurative. 


    Il Sassetta, Saint Martin and the beggar, 1433
    Collection of the Netherlands Institute for Art History


    Alluded to in its title, the present work is a reference to Il Sassetta’s 1433 piece of the same name, depicting Saint Martin as a young Roman soldier on horseback about to cut his cloak to share with the freezing beggar. Unlike Renaissance depictions of the story however, Yanai's rendition omits the beggar from the narrative, and instead, Saint Martin looks to his left alone, the floating cloak now enhanced by a sense of surrealism; his sword now raised seemingly for nobody.


    In this flattened perspective, the heartwarming story takes on fantastical undertones, perhaps despite its cheerful colour palette. We are forced to consider the tale through a contemporary lens: have selfless acts become few and far between? Has our society become so success driven that there is no room for weakness? In his purposeful omission of the beggar figure Yanai forces us to contend with our own morality—and within a simplified digital plane, the effect is all the more powerful. 

    Yanai’s works have been featured within numerous solo exhibitions, including In the shadow of young girls in flower (2022), Kônig Galerie, Berlin and The Things of Life (2021), Miles McEnergy Gallery, New York. His works are also held in public and private collections including: Haifa Museum of Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York, Jose Mugrabi Collection, M Art Center, Shanghai, Drake Collection, Wassenaar and Anita Zabludowicz Collection, London.



    The present work at the artist’s studio in 2019


    • Provenance

      Praz-Delavallade, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Praz-Delavallade, The Conformist, 30 March - 25 May 2019


Saint Martin and the Beggar (after Sassetta)

signed 'guy yanai' on the overlap
oil on canvas
150 x 120 cm. (59 x 47 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

HK$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for HK$304,800

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Day Sale, Associate Specialist
+852 2318 2014

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 7 October 2023