Key Hiraga - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, July 9, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Description

    Playtime: A Vision of Innocence and Eroticism
    Connecting the dots between art and sex, love and eroticism, 'Playtime' spans our Evening (Lot 18) and Day Sales (Lots 180-195), encompassing mediums from painting and sculpture, to prints and photography.


  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Japan
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Gallery, The Eyes of Both Oceans, Contemporary Art, 28 January - 2 February 1992

  • Literature

    Key Hiraga, Paris Burai - Collection Paintings of Key Hiraga, Tokyo, 2000, pp.166-167 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Shining Sea is a compelling example of the playful, provocative nature of Japanese artist Key Hiraga’s instantly-identifiable practice. A colourful cast of half-dressed, louche characters recline intertwined in the foreground, watched over by the artist’s bowler hat-wearing alter-ego protagonist, Mr H. The surrealist world presented is strikingly rich, a kaleidoscope of saturated colours and overlapping narratives. With a penchant for sensually burlesque storytelling, as showcased in the present work, Hiraga’s visually electric compositions are credited as having a significant influence on contemporary Japanese art.

    After having received the Japan National Young Artist Award in 1964, Hiraga embarked on his residency in Paris, famously describing his first impression as a ‘culture shock’. Reflecting the artist’s fascination with the erotic shops and exhilarating nightlife that characterised his seedy Parisian neighbourhood district of Pigalle, Hiraga’s practice transitioned from calligraphic line to vibrant colour and sinuous shapes. As Hiraga came into contact with European artists, aesthetic refinement led to the development of his signature blended style of traditional Japanese techniques and Western influences.

    Hiraga returned to Japan in the late 1970s, and lived in Hakone until he passed away in 2000, shortly after a museum of his work was established in the town. Alongside being the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, Hiraga’s works have found places in prestigious collections around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among many more.


Shining Sea

signed and dated 'Key Hiraga '91' lower right
acrylic on canvas
130.3 x 162 cm. (51 1/4 x 63 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1991.

HK$280,000 - 350,000 

Sold for HK$325,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020