Lauren Quin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips
  • Lauren Quin’s abstract paintings are truly a sight to behold. Each of the vivacious young American painter’s works is like an explosion of tone and symbols that flood the viewer’s senses. The electric colours and pulsating lines that Quin generates are mesmerizing, drawing the eye in and keeping it locked in a trance-like state. The churning waves of form and pigment create networks of interaction between fetish and foul, blood and marrow, purity and perversion.


    What makes Quin's work so special is the way in which she merges convictions concerning the individual and the universal in her compositions. Each of her paintings exists at the juncture of the essential components of life, where one begins to bleed into the other, creating a unique and deeply affecting emotional resonance that is difficult to describe – a seismic experience when confronted in person.


    At the heart of Quin's work is a keen awareness of the power of communication. She utilises both internal and external modes of communication to create her imagery and mark-making. The resulting paintings are rich in allusion and symbolism, creating a repertoire of imagery that is both public and private.


    Quin's paintings are initially built from a shape that is repeated and overlapped, creating a layering process that forms a multitude of compositional centre points as well as other forms that appear in the residual spaces. Each painting is then topped with motifs derived from Quin's drawing archive, which she transfers onto the canvas using a meticulously honed mono-printing technique. As the artist uses her symbols again and again, they grow from a personally sourced visual language into a collective cultural unconscious - the meaning expands and erodes, taking on a life of its own as each viewer forms their own attachment to these works.


    One of the most fascinating aspects of Quin's compositions is the recurring element that she calls the 'tube'. These thick strips of colour and shadow resemble volumetric prisms, and when overlapping, they morph into a shifting crosshatch or moiré pattern. The tubes are both the most persistently recurring and the least stable element of her compositions; they play tricks with the consistency of their weight and value and subvert traditional notions concerning the pictorial space, suffusing the surface of compositions with a surging kinetic energy. Towards the end of Quin’s process, she lays down a heavy layer of paint that she acts upon with urgency, carving into it before it can set permanent. This final carving process is athletic, nimble, and dictated by the passage of time. In this way, Quin formulates a new argument for abstraction that is not about hard edges, clean lines, or brute force. Instead, it is about capturing the essence of communication in all its forms and channeling it through a kaleidoscope of colour and form that creates dialogue with the cosmos itself.


    The meditative qualities that emerge from these endless permutations are of no surprise given that the artist had originally planned to go into art therapy while at university. Studying the history of art therapy, she was inspired by the rhythmic and repetitive qualities of patients’ work and sought to incorporate those into her own practice. The liberating means of self-dialogue bears parallels to the strain of Art Brut that developed at the Maria Gugging Psychiatric Clinic outside Vienna (commonly known as Gugging). Now an artist’s commune and museum, during the 1950s the clinic pioneered using art as a means of diagnosis and therapy for its patients. Since then, it has been a focal point for the production of some of the world’s most raw, direct and honest art that speaks to the human condition on a primal level – much like Quin’s.



    Johann Garber, Sexi-blatt, 1994
    © Privatstiftung - Künstler aus Gugging 

    The works of Kazuo Shiraga and Quin share an intense commitment to exploring the possibilities of abstraction, each artist pushing the boundaries of their respective mediums to create works that are both powerful and profoundly expressive. Shiraga's large-scale paintings are characterised by their raw physicality and frenzied gestural marks, while Quin's works often feature subtle variations in texture and colour, imbuing them with a sense of delicacy and refinement.


    Despite these apparent differences, there is a deep sense of kinship between the two artists' practices. Both Shiraga and Quin are unafraid to take risks and to experiment with new techniques and are deeply invested in the process of creation itself. Shiraga’s physical approach to painting, with his use of his feet and hands to apply paint in sweeping, unrestrained strokes, can be seen as a kind of performative act, while Quin's meticulous attention to detail speaks to her own deep engagement with the materials and techniques of painting. Moreover, both artists are keenly attuned to the emotional resonances of their work and are part of a broader tradition of artists who have sought to use abstraction as a means of accessing deeper truths about the world around us. Whether through frenzied physical improvisation or careful consideration of form and colour, both artists demonstrate the enduring power of abstraction to evoke complex emotional states and to transcend the limitations of representation. In both cases, the artists strive to capture something essential about the human experience - something that transcends the limits of language or culture.



    Kazuo Shiraga, Zuisouhen, 1986
    Sold by Phillips Hong Kong for HK$ 9,750,000, 24 November 2019


    Collector’s Digest


    • Quin’s work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions, including Pulse Train Howl (2022), Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA, and group exhibitions such as Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from ICA Miami’s Collection (2022), Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; and On Boxing (2021), Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

    • Quin’s work is held in numerous public collections including: X Museum, Beijing; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; ICA Miami, Miami; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix; and Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis.

    • Her work is also held in the private collections of: Komal Shah Collection; Green Family Art Foundation; Kraus Foundation; and Rachofsky Collection.

    • Provenance

      Blum & Poe Gallery, Los Angeles
      Private Collection, Los Angeles
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Lauren Quin

      Lauren Quin (b. 1992) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She holds an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. She forms her canvases by painting repeated, intercepted, and reconnected shapes and colors. She is most known for the “tube” shape throughout her compositions. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions including her first US museum show My Hellmouth, Nerman Museum of Art, Overland Park, KS (2023); Sagittal Fours, Pond Society, Shanghai, China (2022); Pulse Train Howl, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA (2022), and group exhibitions such as Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from ICA Miami’s Collection, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL (2022); and On Boxing, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA (2021).

      Her work is held in numerous public collections including the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Smart Museum, Chicago, IL; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN and Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China.

      View More Works


Third Belly

signed and dated 'L Quin 2021/2022' on the reverse
oil on canvas
152.7 x 213.7 cm. (60 1/8 x 84 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2021-2022.

Full Cataloguing

HK$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for HK$1,905,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 30 March 2023