Issy Wood - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 15, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Executed on lush, stretched velvet in rich oils, Eggplant / car interior sees London-based interdisciplinary artist and rising star Issy Wood pushing a Surrealist syntax of the uncanny into the 21st century in her investigations of consciousness and the commodity. Described as embodying a ‘medieval millennial’ aesthetic, Wood’s paintings have a unique ability to intrigue and unsettle, thanks in part to her large-scale closely cropped compositions and innovative use of materials.i Taking the smallest everyday detail, Wood’s closely focussed and large-scale work magnifies and makes the familiar strange, detatching the innocuous car interior from its usual context and repositioning it in strange, new combinations. Suffused with humour and eroticism, Wood’s work recalls the crisp close-ups of Domenico Gnoli’s everyday objects, more recently reinvigorated in Julie Curtiss’ precise brand of Neo-Surrealism.  


    Domenico Gnoli, Armchair No. 2,1967, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza/Scala, Florence © Domenico Gnoli, SIAE / DACS, London 2021

    Auto Erotica  


    Taken originally from the pages of car sales catalogues, Wood’s series of car interiors plays with the idea of the automobile as at once the image of suburban banality and of aspirational consumerism. A desirable but dangerous object, the car, as J.G. Ballad explored most famously in his 1973 novel Crash, also sits at the charged interface of violence and desire, the frisson of which is clearly communicated in the shapely, suggestive forms and richly textured surface of Eggplant / car interior


    Drawing attention to the dated vocabulary labelling cars as female objects owned by men, Wood playfully presents the gearstick and surround in unmistakably sexual terms. Emphasising its smooth curves and polished finish, Wood’s closely cropped image inverts this association, instead poking fun at the metaphoric relationship existing between cars and masculine virility. As her title suggests, detatching an object from its usual set of relations opens it up to a remarkable slipperiness, as Man Ray had explored with his assisted Readymades Homme and Femme

    'She's good at layering everyday objects with something extraordinary, making her work quite funny and also recognisable' —Michal Xufu Huang 



    Meticulously painted on stretched velvet, Wood shows an especially attuned sensitivity to our relationship with materials and the tactility of objects, manipulating our expectations to wonderfully disconcerting effects. While our mind registers the smooth, cool effect of leather seats and the dull hardness of the veneered car interior, we instead stumble over the chunky, thick textures of oil on velvet, creating a visual and sensorial dissonance that is particularly affecting. 


    Meret Oppenheim, Object, 1936, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2021. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence © DACS 2021

    Like supreme Surrealist Meret Oppenheim’s famously unsettling Object, part of what gives Wood’s Eggplant / car interior its power to estrange is its tactility, and the sensory confusion we experience when looking at a familiar, everyday object made strange in this manner. Knowing teacups as we do, we can’t help but imagine touching, lifting, and drinking from this fur-lined cup, an unsettling and almost abject challenge to what we think we know of the order of things. Similarly, the proximity of the familiar object and human or animal characteristics explored by both Oppenheim and Wood generates a decidedly uncanny atmosphere, humorously posing questions about what it means to be objectified, and how value is attributed in our consumer-driven society. 

    'Both painting and producing music deal with layers, scrapping the parts you don’t want, and happy accidents.' —Issy Wood 

    Music video for Issy Wood’s ‘Fuss’, 2021 


    Collector’s Digest


    •    An established musician, Issy Wood is signed with producer Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records, with her second EP If It’s Any Constellation released earlier this year. 


    •    Since her first major institutional show with Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art in September 2018, Woods has shown her work at institutions world-wide, including the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and Tate St. Ives. Earlier this year she mounted a major solo exhibition at Bejing’s X Museum. 


    •    Issy Wood has been shown at institutions worldwide, with her next big solo exhibition coming up at Beijing’s X Museum.


    i Naomi Rea, ‘They’re very similar attitudes’: Artist Issy Wood on her double life as a paintings sensation and ascendent pop star’, ArtNews, 20 November 2020, online

    • Provenance

      Carlos∕Ishikawa, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Eggplant / car interior

signed and dated 'Issy Wood 2019' on the reverse
oil on velvet
110.2 x 150.3 cm (43 3/8 x 59 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £327,600

Contact Specialist

Kate Bryan
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

+44 7391 402741


Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe

+44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 15 October 2021