Lucas Arruda - 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips

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  • In Short


    “These paintings are perhaps greater forays into silence, and the temperament of light”
    – Lucas Arruda


  • Landscapes of the Mind

    Bridging abstraction and figuration, the landscapes and seascapes of Lucas Arruda’s paintings recall the Romantic sublime, as epitomized by 19th century landscapes, through a contemporary lens. In Untitled, Arruda presents us with what appears to be a blue sea cloaked by a stormy grey foreboding sky. Intended to more closely represent the landscape of the artist’s imagination than real environments, Untitled and Arruda’s other meditations comprise the Deserto-Modelo series that the artist has been working on for the last decade. This long-term investigation of painting’s nature is on one hand influenced by the writings of Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto and Dino Buzzati’s 1940 book O Deserto dos Tártaros, but Arruda was also inspired by a wide range of artists such as Alfredo Volpi and Agnes Martin. Evocative of so many pictures—an ocean by J. M. W. Turner; a misty beach scene by Armando Reverón; James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea, 1871 at Tate, London—Untitled encourages the viewer to examine nature through the astute and diverse eyes of the artists we so admire.

    [left] James Abbott McNeill Whister, Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea, 1871. Tate Gallery, London, Photo credit © Tate, London / Art Resource, NY
    [right] Armando Reverón, El Playón, 1929. Private Collection.

    “He is, it seems, genuinely compelled by the idea of capturing lived experience in paint. Part of that is being metaphorically on the outer fringe of civilization and peering into the unknown and perhaps unknowable cosmos. It is the thrill of the sublime. The other part is the strange and fascinating fact that mere colored paste smeared on fabric in the right way can evoke infinity without surrendering its own immediately sensual finitude” – Ken Johnson, The New York Times

    By ironically executing landscapes and seascapes—expansive scenes typically experienced on a monumental scale—in such an intimate format, Arruda strikes a dynamic balance between our close relationship with and the vastness of nature. “It’s the counterpoint that I like,” Arruda elucidated. “The tension of the wide spaces to the small canvases, and also, the more you get near them, the less you can access them.”[i] The intimate size of Untitled invites us to approach the painting, likening the viewing experience to peering through a portal into another dimension.

    The question that haunts Arruda's paintings however, is that of what we are truly seeing. In fact, Untitled seems to recall less a seascape existing in reality than a hazy memory of one, which we are not—like with all recollections—
    Barnett Newman, Shining Forth (to George), 1961. Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Photo: Georges Meguerditchian ©  CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY, Artwork © 2020 Barnett Newman Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    able to remember with perfect accuracy. Indeed, “the only reason to call my works ‘landscapes’ is cultural—it’s simply that viewers automatically register my format as a landscape, although none of the images can be traced to a geographic location,” Arruda has explained. "It’s the idea of landscape as a structure, rather than a real place.”[ii]

    J.M.W. Turner, Seascape with a Sailing Boat and a Ship, circa 1825-1830. Tate Gallery, London, Photo credit: © Tate, London / Art Resource, NY

    “I don’t think of myself as a landscape painter. It’s common to view my work through the lens of the sublime, but it’s more complex than that. My work is informed at a technical level by certain landscape painting, in the use of color and brushwork for example, or Constable’s clouds, which are the best in that tradition. But those painters were observing nature"
    – Lucas Arruda

    Typically painted at dawn, Arruda’s Deserto-Modelo paintings often seem to allude to day break; this is the case in Untitled, the sea in which seems to be illuminated by rising, soft sunlight. As opposed to simply imitating nature, however, the artist seeks to reveal “a sensation, a state of mind suspended within the medium of paint…that can’t be grasped through language because there aren’t sufficient visual elements to describe it.”[iii] The Deserto-Modelo works are thus much alike the abstracted days and memories they represent—none are the same, as each is subtly different, articulating its own unique sensation.   
        Agnes Martin, Untitled, 2002. Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Photo: Philippe Migeat ©CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY, Artwork © 2020 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Collector's Digest

    Despite being only 37 years old, Arruda has already received widespread institution and critical recognition for his exquisite land- and seascapes. His first large-scale institutional solo show, Deserto-Modelo, was at the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany last year, and works by the artist are already in the permanent collections of J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Fondation Beyeler, Basel;  the Rubell Family Collection, Miami; and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo in Brazil.

    Lucas Arruda, Untitled (from the Series Deserto-Modelo), 2015. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Photo: Robert Bayer, Artwork © Lucas Arruda

    Well-known in his native country of Brazil, Arruda has catapulted to international acclaim after shows at David Zwirner in London in 2017 and New York in 2019. With his paintings rare to market, this is only the fifth Deserto-Modelo at auction. Phillips achieved the world record for the artist this past February in London.

    [i] Lucas Arruda, quoted in Lucy Rees, “Lucas Arruda’s Dreamy Landscapes Go on View at David Zwirner,” Galerie Magazine, October 10, 2019, online.
    [ii] Lucas Arruda, quoted in Angeria Rigamonti di Cutò, “Lucas Arruda: ‘The only reason to call my works landscapes is cultural,’” studiointernational, September 19, 2017, online.
    [iii] Chris Sharp, “Lucas Arruda: The Creation of Silence,” Lucas Arruda, Paris, 2018, p. 12.
    • Provenance

      VeneKlasen/Werner Galerie, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Berlin, VeneKlasen/Werner Galerie, Lucas Arruda—Deserto-Modelo, November 15, 2014 – January 10, 2015

    • Literature

      Henri Neuendorf, “artnet Asks: Lucas Arruda”, artnet News, December 1, 2014, online (illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      Lucas Arruda

      Lucas Arruda is a Brazilian contemporary artist who lives and works in São Paolo. Arruda paints diffusive land- and seascapes characterized by faint horizon lines, intense internal light, and a placid expression of the sublime. His paintings recreate the unrelenting violence of nature, blending wisps of clouds and the foam of the sea into the indistinguishable whole of the storm. His works are meditations on memory and loss, created by paradoxically using abstraction as a means to achieve illusory figuration.   

      Arruda’s paintings are marked both by an all-encompassing elusiveness and an immersive turbulence of form. Primarily working on an intimate scale, Arruda co-opts the onerous expressiveness of abstract painting to create scenes of the intense power and beauty of nature. Arruda’s formal experimentations with the temperament of light and the capabilities of tonality align his work with that of James Abbott Whistler and J.M.W. Turner as much as with that of Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still.  

      View More Works



signed and dated “Lucas Arruda 2014” on the overlap
oil on canvas
9 5/8 x 12 in. (24.4 x 30.5 cm)
Painted in 2014.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $350,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 2 July 2020