Ilana Savdie - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • "I can’t really say I know exactly what I’m unmasking, but I know it is the deploying, displaying, unsticking of a kind of armor, something that serves to protect and/or disguise."
    —Ilana Savdie

    Ilana Savdie’s Marimonda Desplegada, 2020, fuses the folkloric and the grotesque in a composition inspired by the artist’s upbringing in Barranquilla, the Colombian city that hosts the world’s second-largest carnaval. The painting prominently features several fluorescent marimonda, Columbian jester costumes dating to the 1800s, which mock the elite with their primate-cum-elephant forms.i For Savdie, this form of protest resonates as a powerful display of resistance, and themes of power and play inform both the content and the process of creating her work.

     

    Savdie inherits a rich tradition of using satirical devices in her paintings to critique social inequities, reminiscent of works like Philip Guston’s Gladiators, 1940, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Alton Pickens’ Carnival, 1949, Musuem of Modern Art, New York. The artist notes that elements in many of her works “are mocking the concepts of binaries that neatly contain anything.”ii But her works are festive and hopeful as well, containing a “celebration of the things that leak out, that spill out, the absurdity of categorization and containment and boundaries.”iii

     

    [left] Philip Guston, Gladiators, 1940. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © Philip Guston [right] Alton Pickens, Carnival, 1949. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © Estate of Alton Pickens
    Alton Pickens, Carnival, 1949. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © Estate of Alton Pickens

    This is embodied by the artist’s practice, which involves allowing her paint to “seep where it wants to seep and sag where it wants to sag,” as part of a process that itself seeps across traditional and digital media in her use of sketching and Photoshop.iv In Marimonda Desplegada, blue paint drips from the parasitic form in the center of the painting and the lowest marimonda is a translucent wash of blooming color. No forms are neatly contained, and resplendent textures can be found throughout the painting.


    The artist’s use of encaustic adds another level of masking and meaning to the work. Beeswax morphs the shapes of Marimonda Desplegada by concealing Savdie’s brushstroke under a thick, yet translucent, and wrinkly layer of wax. The effect both preserves and distorts the paint below. Savdie enjoys the contradictory visual outcomes of this material, and how it recalls human earwax. Leaning into the dual forces of attraction and repulsion, the artist creates an ambiguous space on the painted surface where, like at carnaval, the laws of reality are suspended.

    "I like to think of the colors in my work as a perversion through abundance. I hope that they both seduce and repel, and force a kind of confrontation of that contradiction."
    —Ilana Savdie
    While Savdie’s connection to intuition and love for bright swaths of colors recalls the work of color field painter Helen Frankenthaler, her embrace of figuration and coding of color-as-queer finds a closer corollary in Doron Langberg, whose intimate scenes become fantastic with vibrant yellows, pinks, and blues, or perhaps in the liquid forms of Christina Quarles. Savdie, Langberg, and Quarles featured works together in “Queering Space,” a group exhibition at Yale School of Art, in 2016.v 

     

    Upon moving to Brooklyn and becoming more involved with queer spaces in Bushwick, the artist noticed parallels between carnaval and queerness. Was there really such a difference, she asked, between wearing a costume for carnaval, or performing in drag, or the everyday experience of “bodies performing as… whatever they’re performing”?vi She began to see the colors and attitudes of her carnaval-esque palette all around her; “There’s an overlap, and I don’t think it’s an accident that my brain has amalgamated all of that,” Savdie notes.vii

     

    [left] Doron Langberg, Willy, 2021. The Baltimore Museum of Art. Artwork: © Doron Langberg [right] Helen Frankenthaler, Flirt, 1995.
    [left] Doron Langberg, Willy, 2021. The Baltimore Museum of Art. Artwork: © Doron Langberg. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery
    [right] Helen Frankenthaler, Flirt, 1995. Artwork: © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Savdie’s marimonda press, droop, and float across the plane; they “queer and reroute themselves,” shedding identities like skins.viii They are marimonda desplegada: marimonda on display, unfolding, spreading out. Their shifting performance embodies Savdie’s commitment to “the use of the exaggerated body as a form of mockery and mockery as a form of protest” in her work.ix “We can locate in [the marimonda] a very queer history of exaggerating the body, and taking up space beyond imposed and oppressive boundaries as forms of resistance and protest,” Savdie says.x “I’m always going to be bigger than the space allotted for me, and embracing that is liberating.”xi

     

    Collector’s Digest

     

    • Savdie's work has recently been acquired by major public institutions in the United States, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her work populates distinguished private collections worldwide.


    Recent solo exhibitions include:

    • White Cube, London, In Jest, July 8 – September 11, 2022

     

    • Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, Entrañadas, November 6, 2021 – January 29, 2022

     

    • Deli Gallery, Swimming in Contaminated Waters, February 26 – April 4, 2021


    i Amanda Roach, “Artist of the Week: Ilana Savdie,” LVL3, November 25, 2020, online
    ii Ilana Savdie, quoted in “In the Gallery: Ilana Savdie | White Cube,” July 28, 2022, online
    iii Ibid.
    iv Ilana Savdie, quoted in Jasmine Wahl, “’Euphoric and Grotesque’: Ilana Savdie on Painting Parasites,” Interview, December 17, 2021, online
    v “Queering Space- Exhibition,” Yale School of Art, October 2016, online.
    vi Ilana Savdie, quoted in Stephanie Eckardt, “In the Studio With Ilana Savdie, the Artist Testing the Body’s Limits,” W Magazine, July 7, 2022, online.
    vii Ibid.
    viii Ilana Savdie, quoted in Amanda Roach, “Artist of the Week: Ilana Savdie,” LVL3, November 25, 2020, online.
    ix Ibid. 
    x Ibid.
    xi Ilana Savdie, quoted in Stephanie Eckardt, “In the Studio With Ilana Savdie, the Artist Testing the Body’s Limits,” W Magazine, July 7, 2022, online.

    • Provenance

      Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York
      Private Collection, United States
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      "Meet the NXTHVN Artists and Curators Creating At-Home Art Activities for Children of Essential Workers," Guggenheim News, June 17, 2020, online (installation view of the present work with the artist in the artist's studio, 2020, illustrated)
      Amanda Roach, "Artist of the Week: Ilana Savdie," LVL3, November 25, 2020, online (illustrated; installation view of the present work with the artist in the artist's studio, 2020, illustrated)

1

Marimonda Desplegada

signed, titled and dated "Ilana Savdie 2020 "Marimonda Desplegada"" on the reverse
oil, acrylic and pigmented beeswax on canvas stretched over board
58 x 48 1/8 in. (147.3 x 122.2 cm)
Executed in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $176,400

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Global Managing Director and Specialist, Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1278
[email protected]

Carolyn Mayer
Associate Specialist, Associate Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1206
[email protected]

 

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 November 2022