Lucy Bull - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Vibrant, fantastical and otherworldly, Lucy Bull’s False Tail is a dazzling field of shape and colour, featuring fiery reds amidst lush green forestry. The title itself suggests a rather ambiguous implication, with the phrase itself being a double entendre: false tail – false tale, evocative of wild animals hidden within the depths of the woods, or a glimpse of a mermaid’s tail within pooling waters. Stunning the beholder upon entrance, the visceral impression of False Tail’s highly synthetic colour palettes and shapes contadict rationality and order and are often described as dynamic, sonic, pulsing to each individual.



    Installation view of the current lot (second from left) at New York, Almine Rech Gallery, Haley Josephs, Lucy Bull, Aaron Curry: I Want to Eat the Sunset. We’re Talking About the Cosmos, Even. And Love, I Guess., 10 July - 10 August 2020


    First unveiled in a group exhibition with Almine Rech Gallery, New York in 2020, False Tail is captivating, enigmatic, and fantastical, and stands as a prime example of her psychedelic works that play with dynamic texture, weight, and space. Bull’s canvases overflow with detail, forming an entrancing viewing experience that titillate the senses.



    Ripples of Colour

    “It’s all about the speed and wrist gestures, the amount of paint on the brush. There’s this build-up of the layers and then sort of reductive techniques like scratching away or making marks.”
    — Lucy Bull

    In the presence of False Tail, there is a disrupting overload of visuals that excites and attacks the optical senses. Bull’s resistance to defy rationality is clear with the accumulations of disruptive marks, guiding one to draw focus on the primary contours that form art – that is, materiality, colour, pigment, medium, surface, brushwork – rather than a depiction of reality in the making. Ripples of hypnotic waves reveal discernible traces of planning and negotiations with the medium, creating a remarkable visual effect that oscillates between physical imprints of the paintbrush and a psychedelic vision.



    Detail of the current lot


    Irregularity is instilled in Bull’s formula for her paintings, the distortion in the atmospheric composition complements the unexpected colour palette that seemingly abides to its own law and order. The painting opens up a plethora of possibilities and associations unique to the eye of the beholder. Defying definite interpretations, Bull’s works morph into an infinite number of new transformations as they shapeshift under every angle. These fantastical landscapes exist outside of time and space in its own universe, where transience and infinitude coexist.


    “The paintings kind of function like Rorschachs. If someone were to tell me they see a certain thing in them, it's telling me more about their psychology than about the work itself.”
    — Lucy Bull


    In interview: The Art of Transformation


    In 2021, Lucy Bull spoke to BOMB Magazine’s John Garcia on the magic of colour and her painting process:


    John Garcia: I would say that is a fundamental difference between how you work versus the vast majority of painters. You’re not trying to make the best painting you can as fast as you can. Instead, you focus on a path of discovery of the new, with no regard to the time it takes to find it.


    Lucy Bull: Right. And the question is always how far to take them. I often find myself thinking to myself, “Well, this is good, but it could be great.” And sometimes that means painting over something that at one point felt finished in hopes of pushing it to another dimension. If I tunnel vision through a single painting for too long, I start to become blind to all that is happening. That’s why it’s important for me to take breaks between encounters. Sometimes I’ll pause on a painting for an entire month. Ultimately what I’m trying to do is get to the point where there is potential for new avenues of discovery. The scratching feels like excavation; older marks in the beginning layers get pulled to the foreground. It’s similar to Max Ernst’s technique of frottage. I relate to how he talks about being a spectator to the making of his own work. When things finally open up and click, it feels like magic.



    JG: I would say conservatively that tension might be inherent to all things, though I think the amount of tension can be heightened or mitigated through concrete actions. Is colour used to arrive at moments of tension and transformation?


    LB: I have a very intuitive relationship to colour by never planning ahead yet always making notes and responding to colours. The notes section of my phone is predominately random colour combinations. In my opinion, the more vivid and acidic, the better. I’m interested in creating a scenario where people can feel their way through a painting. I want the reaction to be more visceral than logical, and colour is the best tool for provoking the viscera.


    Read the full interview here.



    Collector’s Digest


    • Phillips debuted the artist’s work at auction in Asia in June 2022 with 8:50, and holds the world record for Bull’s work at auction. The painting achieved nearly eight times the high estimate, realising nearly 1.5 million USD in June of 2022. 

    • Lucy Bull, born in New York in 1990 and currently residing in Los Angeles, emerges as one of the rising figures in the world of contemporary art. After earning her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012, her paintings have been sought after for their ebullient and psychedelic qualities. Her creations recall the likes of Surrealistic landscapes, loose brushwork in opaque, unrealistic combinations, apparently products of a process-based meditation between impulse decision and proposed thinking.

    • Recent exhibitions featuring Bull’s works include solo exhibitions hosted at David Kordansky Gallery, Human Resources and Smart Objects in Los Angeles, High Art in Arles and Paris, to name a few. Appearances in group exhibitions are frequented as well, including those of Artists Inspired By Music: Interscope Reimagined at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Present Generations: Creating the Scantland Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. Permanent collections proved her standing importance, currently in the hands of MAMCO Geneva, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Dallas Museum of Art and Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.

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    • Description

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    • Provenance

      Almine Rech, New York
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Almine Rech, Haley Josephs, Lucy Bull, Aaron Curry: I Want to Eat the Sunset. We’re Talking About the Cosmos, Even. And Love, I Guess., 10 July - 10 August 2020


False Tail

signed and dated 'L Bull 2020' on the reverse
oil on canvas
121.9 x 91.4 cm. (47 7/8 x 35 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000 

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Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 30 March 2023