Lesley Vance - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, June 6, 2021 | Phillips

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  • I like the idea that the forms in my paintings might unwind, but you cant trace the steps back. I want it to be a singular boom. It is an object that exists, and you dont question it, but the longer you look at it, you find yourself trying to. You dont know what the first move was; it unravels in a weird way, like a labyrinth. You dont know what is the beginning or what is the end; it is very circular. One move floats and becomes part of another form.” —Lesley Vance [1]

    Los Angeles-based American artist Lesley Vance has garnered critical acclaim for pushing the limits of representation in her signature abstract still life paintings. Her works are in prestigious institutional collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


    Conveying fluidity and depth through skilful light and shadow experimentation as well as strategically layered brushstrokes in a striking palette, Vance was influenced by the Spanish Cubist painter Juan Gris. [2] In particular, both Untitled and Gris’s The Table (1914) feature invented and improvised forms that build an allusion of physical reality. But Vance shifts away from the Cubist philosophy of portraying the subject in a deconstructed manner where multiple angles are combined into one. Instead, she uses these sparse fragments as an abstract spatial arrangement of different objects that appear vaguely familiar to the viewer, yet still not fully recognisable. While Gris used collage to build physical and visual layers in his work, Vance introduces complexity with wet-on-wet contrasting hues and judicious use of chiaroscuro, creating emotional tension between the sumptuous foreground and the hauntingly dark, tenebrous background. Breaking the bounds of visual language, Untitled integrates abstract edges and curves, playing with liquidity, strength and permanence to transform puzzle pieces of parts into a cohesive, enthralling composition.


    Juan Gris, Still Life: The Table, 1914  A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952
    Juan Gris, Still Life: The Table, 1914
    A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952

    Lesley produces images that assert themselves in so many experiential ways materially, optically, spatially. At times these work in concert, reinforcing one another through equivalences between paint and form, for example, but at other times they tear apart and the space of the canvas and the space of the representation can each impede access to the other. This tension is what makes her paintings so entrancing.” —Diana Tuite [3]


    [1]  Jennifer Samet, ‘Beer with a Painter, LA edition: Lesley Vance’, Hyperallergic, 26 Sept 2015, online

    [2] ‘In my work the still life only endures as something like the sense you get in certain rooms that exist as you see them when you walk in, but somehow feel like vaults of past activity and objects. Right now I especially love Gris. His paintings are strange and awkward but so elegant.’ Lesley Vance quoted in Laura Fried, ‘Interview with Lesley Vance’, Flash Art, 16 May 2016, online

    [3] Diana Tuite, quoted in ‘Lesley Vance September 21-October 27, 2012’, Flag Art Foundation, online


    • Provenance

      Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brussels, Xavier Hufkens, Lesley Vance: Paintings & Watercolours, 21 June – 21 July 2012, p. 9 (illustrated)



signed and dated 'Lesley Vance 2012' on the reverse
oil on linen
45.4 x 35.3 cm. (17 7/8 x 13 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2012.

Full Cataloguing

HK$240,000 - 340,000 

Sold for HK$504,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

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

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021