Hannah Bays - New Now London Thursday, April 28, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • Hannah Bays’ Bitter Cup is a mystical example of the artist’s persisting interest in notions of the body and all its discontents. Creating a subtle tension between the abstract and the figurative, the symbolic and the formal, Bays’ practice explores existentialist questions of solitude and the ambiguity of meaning in human life. Themes of alienation are depicted through a clever mixture of neo-symbolism and a visual anthropomorphism of inanimate objects. In the present work, a melting candle is grotesquely reminiscent of a female nude, as if collapsing onto the ground. In an interview with Dazed, Bays admits to drawing inspiration from Louise Bourgeois, ‘It’s the symbolic associations that resonate with me, whether they manifest in sculpture or painting. The house as body, body as landscape, body as leaky vessel, as battleground. I feel like my paintings draw from the same psychic well.’i  Bitter Cup exudes a dark complexity that resonates with the title’s biblical reference to a metaphorical cup that held the world’s sins and suffering. Inspired by the artist’s visit to the San Bernardino ossuary in Milan during her time at the Malevich Art Residency in Lake Como, the work functions as a neo-surrealist memento mori

    Bays has enjoyed several group and solo exhibitions in the UK, Mexico and the Netherlands, including a two-person show with Ana Kazaroff at Kupfer Project in 2021, and a solo show with Cob Gallery, Desire Peaks, in 2016. Her work is part of several prominent collections, including the Soho House Collection and the Hiscox Collection in the UK as well as the Leslie Collection in Ireland. 


    i Hannah Bays, quoted in ‘Ten women artists and designers on their love of Louise Bourgeois’, Dazed Digital, February 22, 2022, online

    • Provenance

      Malevich Art Residency, Lake Como

    • Literature

      Emily Dinsdale, 'Ten Women Artists and Designers and Their Love of Louise Bourgeois,' Dazed Digital, 22 February 2022, online


Bitter Cup

signed and dated 'Bays '21 Bays '21' on the stretcher; signed and dated 'Bays '21' on the overlap
oil on canvas
99.4 x 74 cm (39 1/8 x 29 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

£4,000 - 6,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £8,190

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now

London Auction 28 April 2022