MADSAKI - New Now Hong Kong Friday, March 29, 2024 | Phillips

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  • Known only by a pseudonym, the Japanese visual artist MADSAKI is globally recognised for his unique approach to contemporary art. In developing an unorthodox style that combines mass culture with art history, the artist boldly reexamines the long-standing conventions that continue to define fine art. MADSAKI spent his childhood in New Jersey, and his familiarity with street art and graffiti influenced him to adopt spray paint as a means to paint spontaneously. Attaching stenciled caps onto spray cans to create intricate compositions, the mix of vibrant colours and street art sensibilities can be seen as a nod to his formative years and multicultural upbringing. MADSAKI’s artistic practice reflects his personal experiences, particularly stemming from his identity as a first-generation immigrant in the early 1980s and his return to Japan in 2004. Having observed these cultural differences and societal issues firsthand, the artist has sought to embrace the interconnectedness of cultures and reject any form of boundaries through his works.


     “One day I wondered: Why am I really painting? I thought about how my admiration for art history had encouraged me to escape from harsh days so far. That is how I started my Wannabe series, in which I embrace art history itself or attempt to become one with it.”


    Pablo Picasso, Le Rêve, 1932, Private Collection. Artwork: © 2024 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Like his Wannabe series, where MADSAKI reinterpreted classical and contemporary masterpieces throughout art history, the present work pays homage to Pablo Picasso and his 1932 painting Le Rêve. While MADSAKI’s rendition of the iconic work appears to closely follow the original composition, colours and form, the strokes and splatters of the artist’s signature spray paint aesthetic bring upon a sense of motion and rawness to the static portrait. In lieu of Picasso’s serene rendering of his muse’s facial features, MADSAKI replaces them with hollowed eyes and pasted-on smiles, transforming it into a striking reformulation of his own. Though instantly recognisable, this homage is firmly situated in the 21st century, encouraging viewers to personally connect with his art, to discover meaning and subtext within his vast oeuvre, and to reconsider the value of artistic appropriation in an increasingly globalised world. In the artist’s own words:


    “I don’t see copying masterpieces and famous comic characters as insulting them at all, but rather as if I’m reinterpreting them as slang words. And I grew up in the US melting pot, where everything is flattened out to be the same, so I think, whether it’s Bugs Bunny or Picasso, it’s all the same.”

    Born in Osaka in 1974 and raised in the United States, MADSAKI graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1996. The artist’s uncompromising dissection of art history and popular culture has won the admiration of many fans, including Japanese icon Takashi Murakami, who hails the younger artist’s ‘bottomless talent’ and bought dozens of pieces for his personal Superflat collection. Now represented by international art galleries such as Galerie Perrotin and Kaikai Kiki, MADSAKI has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including This Used to be My Playground at Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Tokyo in 2023, Island Love at Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Tokyo, in 2022, and Hello Darkness, My Old Friend (I’ve come to talk with you again), at Perrotin, New York, in 2021.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Perrotin, Tokyo
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Bangkok, Central Embassy, Combination Platter, 8 May - 3 June 2018

Property from a Distinguished Private Collection


Le Reve 2

signed and dated 'Madsaki 2017' on the reverse
acrylic and aerosol on canvas
130 x 97 cm. (51 1/8 x 38 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

HK$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for HK$571,500

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now

Hong Kong Auction 29 March 2024