Jonathan Lyndon Chase - 20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | Phillips

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  • In Bend, 2018, Jonathan Lyndon Chase openly expresses the paralyzing challenges in defining their identity as a queer, Black person within the rigid constructs of contemporary society. Epitomizing Chase’s figurative oeuvre, Bend depicts an androgynous figure leaping through the air, donning Nike slides and baggy shorts paired with long eyelashes and blue nail polish. By juxtaposing traditionally masculine attire with symbols of femininity, the artist asserts their perspective on the malleability of gender identity.

    "Gender expression is performed in masculine ways as well as femme ways...It’s all drag in a me, athletic clothes and sweats are an indicator for boyness, comparable to a peacock flexing, or can be used as a means to blend in or camouflage into spaces with a masculine overtone." —Jonathan Lyndon Chase

    Ball Culture

    The underground subculture known as Ball Culture, a prominent motif found within the subtext of Chase’s work, encourages participants to dress up in gender-defying costumes and engage in unabashed self-expression that typically subverts societally prescribed gender norms. With roots in 1960s Harlem, the community has become more mainstream over the past few decades, with representation in film and music, beginning largely with Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning premiering in 1990. The energetic contortions and fragmented figuration of the subject in Chase’s Bend seem to draw from the performative aspects in Ball Culture. The present work represents a dichotomy of emotion; through this visual snapshot of liberating release with an underlying presence of hardship, Chase highlights the complexities of living within a layered identity.


    Still from 'Paris Is Burning', 1990. Credit: Press/Criterion Collection



    Chase's subject in Bend floats before an unidentifiable background of abstracted pink hues and loose sketches. Here, the figure exists outside of the bounds of society, free from the confines of social expectation. In the series to which the present work belongs, Chase uses bedsheets as the backdrop for his intimate portraits. The soft comfort of these sheets represents the freedom and safety found in domestic spaces, where one can disassociate from their outward personas.


    As Chase notes, “bedsheets have a lot of different connotations to me. Reality is made up of socio-cultural threads that are woven together. We’re all part of society, and the common thread is our bodies, which we use to rest, resist and to navigate our identities as well as the outer world around us.”(i) Integral to the way in which Chase has chosen to empower the queer community through their work, Sheets was the name of the artist’s first solo show in Los Angeles, where Bend was prominently featured as the cover of the exhibition’s catalogue. As such, Bend unapologetically encompasses the root of Chase’s practice: expression for the queer community and exploration of the emotional multiplicities of forming one’s identity within the conventions of modern society. 


    Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998. Tate, London on loan from the Duerckheim Collection, London. Artwork © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Property Sold to Benefit the Cuperior Residency, Berlin

    The idea for the Cuperior Residency in Berlin was born out of the Cuperior Collection of contemporary art, founded by Oliver Elst in 2016. Through 3-month residencies followed by solo exhibitions, the Cuperior Residency’s goal will be to support young, emerging artists by providing an international platform from which to develop their practices and increase their art world presence. Phillips will donate a portion of the revenue from the sale of this Lot directly to the Cuperior Residency, and is pleased to support this initiative and the artists it will support.


    Collectors Digest


    Concurrent Institutional Show:


    Philadelphia, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Jonathan Lyndon Chase: Big Wash, January 2, 2021 - June 6, 2021


    (i) Jonathan Lyndon Chase, quoted in Curtis M. Wong, “NSFW: This Artist Is Tackling Black, Queer Identities In An Intimate Way”, HuffPost, May 6, 2018, online

    • Provenance

      Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Los Angeles, Kohn Gallery, Jonathan Lyndon Chase: Sheets, June 1 - July 14, 2018, pp. 8, 68 (illustrated, front cover and p. 9)

Property Sold to Benefit the Cuperior Residency, Berlin



signed and dated "Jonathan L Chase 2018" on the stretcher
acrylic, marker, graphite and glitter on cotton bed sheet
72 x 60 in. (182.9 x 152.4 cm)
Executed in 2018.

A portion of Phillips’ revenue for this Lot will benefit the Cuperior Residency, Berlin.

Full Cataloguing

$35,000 - 45,000 

Sold for $105,840

Contact Specialist

Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York

1 212 940 1250

20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session

New York 8 December 2020