Justin Caguiat - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "The forms and subjects phased in and out of depth. Even in dim light the painting seemed irradiated by a strobe, the picture plane a twinkling low relief."
    —Th. Killian Roach

    Doll 3 Eros, 2020 is a quintessential example of Justin Caguiat’s mystical compositions that have garnered international acclaim. Emblematic of Caguiat’s fresco-like paintings that meld representational, abstract, and organic imagery into a dreamlike universe, the present work captures Sophie Ruigrok’s reading of the artist’s work as “a primordial soup of ancient figures...and celestial bodies.”i Here a constellation of vignettes presenting a scene at once elusive and readily evocative of the motifs of Eros, the Greek god of love and fertility, is rendered in a rich palette and layered handling signature to Caguiat’s practice. Having featured in his solo show at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo in 2021, the present work marks the artist’s auction debut. Following Greene Naftali’s recent representation of the artist, Caguiat will have his first solo show with the gallery this September on the heels of his major exhibition at The Warehouse, Dallas from January to April 2022.


    The present work installed at Justin Caguiat: Doll, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, March 27 – April 24, 2021

    Born in Tokyo and based in New York and Oakland, the Filipino artist is known for his numinous paintings deeply rooted in art history and memory. Spoken through his unique contemporary voice, Caguiat’s painterly style has been likened to 19th century japonisme for its fusion of European and Japanese influences. In the present work, the flattened forms recall those seen in Japanese mosaics and ukiyo-e woodblock prints, but are rendered through a Symbolist sensibility redolent of Odilon Redon’s eccentric atmospheres and Hilma Af Klint’s specific brand of esotericism. Here, Caguiat’s use of aqueous grounds engender an ethereal, near-holographic aesthetic that alludes to the likes of astrological bodies. Layering pools of color across unstretched canvas, the artist allows certain colors to emerge and others recede, achieving luminosity throughout the composition and recalling a handling of medium and imagery that has an affinity with Peter Doig’s late work. 

    [left] Odilon Redon, The Muse on Pegasus, ca. 1907-1910. Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan [right] Hilma Af Klint, The Ten Largest, No. 2, Childhood, 1907. Hilma Af Klint Foundation, Stockholm

    Caguiat’s hazy rendering of form and fragmentary treatment of the composition are key elements of his work that conjure the very nature of memory. Fusing literary references and the wells of his mind, the artist’s prowess in translating abstract entities such as memories or feelings into visual representation stems from his practice as a poet. In the present work, the symbols of Eros—the figures encapsulated in womb-like forms and suggestions of a zygote—seamlessly connect with disparate imagery such as the ghostly blue figure at center through a constellational quality that reveals itself, quite literally, in every shape and form. From mysterious silhouettes lingering in the background to microscopic dots that appear throughout the composition, Doll 3 Eros reveals Caguiat’s masterful congruence of representation and technique, familiar and elusive imagery, in creating a kaleidoscopic world of memory and imagination. As the artist’s friend Th. Killian Roach described of his work: “I saw plant propagation—cuttings, divisions, budding, grafting…a jumbled, composite form of big studio cel animation…colorist popping everything in reach...Memory is not a linear thing. It’s like looking at the stars.”ii 



    Collector’s Digest


    • Greene Naftali announced its representation of Caguiat in October 2021 on the heels of the widespread acclaim his work received at Frieze, London that year.

    • Caguiat’s works have featured in exhibitions across the globe including in the United States, Switzerland, Italy, United Kingdom, and Canada.


    i Sophie Ruigrok, “What To See at Condo London 2020,” Frieze, January 10, 2020.
    ii Th. Killian Roach, “Preface – Justin Caguiat: ‘Doll,’” Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, 2021, press release, online.

    • Provenance

      Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Tokyo, Taka Ishii Gallery, Justin Caguiat "Doll", March 27–April 24, 2021


Doll 3 Eros

oil, gouache and pastel on canvas
71 1/2 x 71 1/2 in. (181.5 x 181.5 cm)
Executed in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

$380,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $504,000

Contact Specialist

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+1 212 940 1278

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+1 212 940 1206

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2022