Jamian Juliano-Villani - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips



    Jamian Juliano-Villani was born in 1987 and grew up in Newark, New Jersey. As a daughter of commercial painters, she was immersed in the graphic design of the 1970s and 1980s, an influence which can clearly be traced in her riotous and highly graphic paintings. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including fashion, photography, illustration and art history, Juliano-Villani’s work is nothing short of schizophrenic. Through research and spontaneous discovery, she seeks out images with a ‘subliminal cultural power’, projecting her findings from cartoons and comic books, television stills and personal photographs onto her canvas, building a narrative of disparate layers and esoteric references. What results is a surrealistic kaleidoscope of characters and objects, stemming from the very recesses of her psyche.


    Despite the appropriation of imagery from the web, Juliano-Villani emphasises, 'I’m not trying to make post-Internet paintings. What the fuck is post-Internet? It’s life.'i



    Installation view of the present lot at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
    Detroit Affinities: Jamian Juliano-Villani, 6 February - 29 March 2015


    Juliano-Villani’s riotous, lurid paintings operate in a language familiar to pop culture, irreverent in tone yet transparent in intention. What Juliano-Villani seeks is not to alienate the viewer, but to communicate a specific agenda in her highly legible, illustrative style - her attempt to dissolve the distinctions between high-brow and low-brow art, taste and class. Indeed, ‘(her) paintings are meant to function like TV, in a way. The viewer is to become passive. Instead of alluding or whispering, like a lot of art does, this is art that tells you what’s up. It kind of does the work for you, like TV does.’ii


    The unsettling mashups elude immediate understanding, offering no easy narrative for the viewer to follow, as much of the imagery springs from Juliano-Villani’s head with a certain manic fervour. Nonetheless, her paintings are not absurd simply for absurdity’s sake – Juliano-Villani states that her work is ‘defiantly something – defiantly questionable’, taking its roots within Dada absurdity.iii Juliano-Villani’s work echoes an obvious social response, demonstrating an eerie awareness of the surreality of our current reality. Zipperman  (2014),  for example,  includes one of the Flying Monkeys from The Wiz (1978), a cult classic musical fantasy film based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and featuring an entirely African-American cast. Clad in black latex masks with bulbous goggles, inflated leather suits with mechanical piping, the Flying Monkeys are an enchanted and enslaved, yet feared, motorcycle gang. They are considered to be a representation of the plight of dispossessed and enslaved Native Americans and Asian labourers in the original Wizard of Oz.iv Yet in Zipperman he hides behind a fir tree. As an aggressive figure who is also a victim, Juliano-Villani is, she explains, ‘drawn to a lot of things like that, that are like these double-edged swords’



    The Flying Monkeys in The Wiz (1978)


    Jamian Juliano-Villani has had numerous solo exhibitions and her work has been featured in the collection of and exhibitions in key galleries and museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Art, as well as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Museum. She now lives and works in New York. v



    Jamian Juliano-Villani as quoted in Jonathan Griffin, ‘Jamian Juliano-Villani’, Jonathan Griffin: Criticism and essays on art and culture, 22 August 2014, online  

    ii Andrew Russeth, ‘Jamian Juliano-Villani Talks Painting’, ARTnews, 22 August 2014, online

    iii Jodi Barthe, ‘weird magic: the art of jamian juliano-villani’, thefifthsense, 28 December 2016, online

    iv Steve, ‘16 Hidden Symbolic Messages in The Wizard of Oz You May Have Missed’, History Collection, 18 October 2018, online

    v Alex Bennett, ‘Portrait: Jamian Juliano-Villani by Alex Bennett’, Novembre Magazine, March 2017

    • Provenance

      Rental Gallery, East Hamptons
      Massimo de Carlo Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit Affinities: Jamian Juliano-Villani, 6 February - 29 March 2015




acrylic on canvas
122 x 101 cm. (48 x 40 in.)
Painted in 2014.

Full Cataloguing

HK$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for HK$1,134,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021