Michaela Yearwood-Dan - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Born in 1994, Michaela Yearwood-Dan is one of the world’s most exciting young painters who created a body of bright, abstract paintings that depict joy and positivity on a grand scale. Incorporating an array of cultural signifiers, she borrows freely from blackness – flora, healing rituals, acrylic nails, and carnival culture, which are deeply personal yet through her own individual experience, she defamiliarises these elements and puts her own spin on notions of gender and identity. Having a great appreciation for nuances, she defies stereotypical identity markers and actively rejects any form of reductive categorisation in her majestic compositions of chromatic abstraction.

    My queer identity isn’t something which I wear on my sleeve in terms of being an artist… I felt like, as a Black female artist, that was always the thing that people would say – ‘yeah, you’re a Black female artist,’ ‘you’re a Black abstract artist,’ – I don’t have the brazen audacity to speak on behalf of all Black women, or Black or queer people. I have the audacity to speak on behalf of myself.” 
    — Michaela Yearwood-Dan

    Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s definition of ‘queer’ can be likened to seeing it as a verb, taking the cultural and institutional settings and turning what’s normal on its head, and is apparent in her lush canvases that conjures up a sanctuary of sorts and also evocated in her successful solo show with an expansive curved mural, Let Me Hold You, the inaugural exhibition at Queercircle, an LGBQT+ led gallery and charity.

    Untitled no.3 is a brilliant example with her signature sweeping brush strokes, botanical imagery and enticing pink drips. Painted in 2018, the pivotal moment in which she became the second recipient of the New Contemporaries Studio Bursary and Sarabande (the latter being a foundation set up in 2007 by Lee Alexander McQueen), she created the body of work entitled Love Letters to Siri as she was experiencing a break-up. At the end of each painting, she’d turn to the trusted, digitised voice, Siri, who supposedly had answers to everything, to seek out an answer for a specific question that she had.

    ‘Siri, are you my friend? Siri, what do you think about my art? Siri, what do you think about the idea of existence?’ My favourite response was to the question, ‘Siri, do you love me?’  And she said, ‘I think you’re looking for love in all the wrong places.’ Woah. ‘I know, right?’ After that, I stopped. Because Siri is a salty little bitch. That hit way too close to home." 
    — Michaela Yearwood-Dan


    Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Untitled no.3 (detail)

    At the studios, she was experiencing life alongside a multitude of creatives, from jewellers to taxidermists, prosthetic makers and a couple of painters, sculptors and performance artists and it was the creative push that took her career to the next level. Fuelled by nostalgia, poetry and personal diary accounts, she makes it clear that her work refuses to focus on trauma and instead looks beyond the past and into the future with an overarching ideal of love and human connection. It is also through Untitled no.3 that we see Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s desire for inclusivity, in the same way that her painting is densely layered with colour and rippling with textures, she is reclaiming beauty for herself and for all women everywhere, as well as all non-binary people and all queer people.


    Collector’s Digest


    • In October 2022, the artist’s auction record was set when Coping Mechanisms (2021) sold for £239,400 at Phillips London.

    • Yearwood-Dan has been celebrated with several solo exhibitions between New York and London.

    • In June 2022, she created a site-specific installation, Let Me Hold You for Queercircle, a dedicated safe space for LGBTQ+ communities to gather.

    • In 2021, she was the subject of a solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery.

    • In 2019, she took up a residency at The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation.

    • She was featured in the third annual Great Women Artists Residency at Palazzo Monti.

    • Recent exhibitions include Laced, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK (group - 2021); Summer exhibition, Royal Academy, London, UK (group- 2021); Be Gentle With Me, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (solo - 2021); Ancient Deities, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (group - 2020); Clay TM, TJ Boulting, London, UK (group - 2020); The Green Fuse, Frestonian Gallery, London, UK (group -2020); No Time Like the Present, Public Gallery, London, UK, (group - 2020); Begin Again, Guts Gallery, London, UK, (group - 2020); After Euphoria, Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK (solo - 2019) and One English Pound, Sarabande, The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation (solo - 2019).

    • Yearwood-Dan’s works are held in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, and Columbus Museum of Art.



    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Unit London, 21st Century Women, 6 - 31 October 2018


Untitled no. 3 from the series Love letters to Siri

signed and dated 'Michaela Yearwood-Dan 2018' on the reverse
acrylic, charcoal and oil on canvas
149.8 x 99.5 cm. (58 7/8 x 39 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2018, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Full Cataloguing

HK$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for HK$2,540,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 31 March 2023