Lucy Bull - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, June 22, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “I want to titillate the senses. I want to draw people closer. I think people aren’t used to paying much-prolonged attention to paintings on walls and I want to allow people to have more of a sensory experience. I want to draw them in so that there is the opportunity for things to open up and for them to wander.”
    Lucy Bull


    Phillips is pleased to present for the first time in Asia, and only second time ever at auction, a work by one of the world’s most exciting and forward-thinking young painters, the enigmatic Lucy Bull. After a breakout show at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles last year, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago graduate has become darling of both collectors and critics alike: the former jostling for her arenas of psychedelia, the latter heralding her as the new champion of Western abstraction.


    A fine balance between acid trip and surrealist climax, Bull’s compositions burn the retina, more siren than artwork as we are entranced by their vivid tessellations of synaesthesia, and drawn into her colour fields that seem to defy the pictorial space and wrap us in their limitless undulations. Otherworldly and fantastical, our brains are forced into hyperdrive as we attempt to comprehend the symphonies of blushes that bleed into one another, almost redefining the essential qualities of colour itself. However, Bull is hesitant to take the mantle of a strict abstraction, instead acknowledging the work of the late British painter Howard Hodgkin as a forefather, mirroring his figuration within her fervent reveries, and claiming ‘I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational pictures of emotional situations.’ i.


    Kaleidoscopic Colour and Sensation


    Bull’s work is defined by dialectic, opposition, contrast – precision and abandon, order and chaos, concord and discord. 8:50 stands as one of the artist’s largest visions, where forms and patterns seem to emerge to allow us grounding in the composition, only to then fall away as the kaleidoscopic sands of pigment shift eternal, forcing self-accusations of pareidolia. An Eleusinian Mystery, time and space are conquered by colour and sensation, made mechanical and played on loop, elliptical. This layered hierarchy that is found at the core of Bull’s work is a product of industry, repeatedly painting over works in small scratches until the piece reaches perfection in the artist’s strict specifications. Yet her technique of addition through scratching is but a mere chimaera, as in reality she engages in a process of excavation when she does so: previous marks get dragged to the foreground, obscuring the boundaries between past and present, old and new. She points to the technique of frottage espoused by the German Surrealist Max Ernst, who would place paper upon various materials, then transpose their surfaces by rubbing pencil or crayon in his investigation of the subconscious ii. Nonetheless, these formal qualities are merely visual bait as the reality of 8:50 is found in the work’s raw emotion.


    Max Ernst, The Eye of Silence, 1944
    Collection of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis
    © 2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


    At Eternity’s Gate


    Forged in an ayahuascan caprice and made manifest by the artist’s boundless creative spirit, approaching the painting is akin to coming face to face with our own subconscious, a Rorschach-like experiment between artwork and spectator that makes the worlds of Michael Fried and Aldous Huxley come crashing together in ethereal harmony. The antithesis of hermetic, 8:50’s essence is found not on the canvas itself but in the experience of interaction with the canvas. Bull explains this as: ‘The work itself is so subjective, there isn’t just one narrative…Rich in so many associations, I never want to short-circuit any of my viewers in their viewing of the work by telling them what I see. I’m more interested in creating something that is more in-between and open-ended with multiple entry points.’ iii. In a world of sensory overload - TikTok reels, endless advertisements and cacophonies of anxiety – Bull’s practice allows for mediation through submission. Like the Instagram Age’s answer to Jackson Pollock, the artist asks us to lose ourselves to find ourselves in her painting, promoting receptions that are visceral rather than conceptual.


    Jackson Pollock, Number 8, 1949
    © 2022 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/ Artists Right Society (ARS), New York


    Collector’s Digest


    In addition to her solo show at David Kordansky, Lucy Bull has been the subject of solo exhibitions at High Art (Arles, 2020; Paris, 2019); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2019); Smart Objects, Los Angeles (2019). Furthermore, her work is held in the permanent collections of MAMCO Geneva; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Dallas Museum of Art; and Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.


    Recent exhibitions include: Lucy Bull: Skunk Grove, 20 March – 1 May 2021; the artist is also currently in a group exhibition, Women of Now, with Plus Gallery alongside other female artists such as Anna Park, Anna Weyant, and Issy Wood.




    i Lucy Bull, quoted in Stephanie Eckardt, ‘In the Studio With Lucy Bull, the Painter Bringing Back Abstraction’, W Magazine, 2 April 2021, online

    ii John Garcia, ‘Getting Lost in the Brushstrokes: Lucy Bull Interviewed by John Garcia’, BOMB Magazine, 26 April 2021, online

    iii  Lucy Bull, quoted in Ophelia Sanderson, ‘Getting Lost in the Enigmatic Paintings of Lucy Bull’, Whitewall, 18 November 2021, online

    • Provenance

      Smart Objects, Los Angeles
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property of an Important Asian Private Collection



signed with the artist's initials and dated 'LB 2020' on the reverse
oil on canvas
93 x 296.5 cm. (36 5/8 x 116 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for HK$11,382,000

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 22 June 2022