Michaela Yearwood-Dan - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I am making work that is gentle in approach in certain ways, but also quite punchy in other ways, but it’s wholeheartedly me.”
    —Michaela Yearwood-Dan

    Unfolding in waves of vibrant reds and oranges, deep blues, and verdant greens against a strong, black ground, Michaela Yearwood Dan’s That your lovin’ makes it better exemplifies the London-based artist's lyrical approach to abstraction. Immersive and highly energised, Yearwood-Dan's all-over compositions explore a wide range of themes related to politics, race, identity, and popular culture, all refracted through a deeply personal lens. Activating the entire surface of the composition here, floral forms burst from the canvas in vibrant hues of orange, yellow and pink, their thick and luscious layering punctuated by staccato accents of black and white. Gently floating verdant leaves seem scattered lightly above this riotus explosion of colour, framing scrawls of cursive text. This is Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s painterly world where colourful abstraction meets botanical, poetic, and contemporary cultural references, underpinned by an interest in the exploration of the self, subjectivity and individual identity as forms of self-determination. 


    The present work was executed in 2021, the same year as Yearwood-Dan’s debut US show at Marianne Boesky Gallery. The series displayed there explored several events and themes which had shaped the world in the preceding years, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, Covid-19, and queer liberation all mediated through the artist's unique painterly lens, as exemplified in That your lovin’ makes it better. Her works are amalgamations of abstraction, text, and botanical elements, recurring motifs in Yearwood-Dans visual vocabulary that generate dreamlike spaces. The use of botanical motifs was also inspired by her childhood surrounded by her mother’s plants in her South London home. Yearwood-Dan says she has always ‘co-existed’ with plants, stating she ‘feel[s] like a space isn’t complete without their existence’i


    Detail of the present work

    Yearwood-Dan's use of text in her paintings has become a signature element of her work. Drawing from songs, slang, her own poetry, and even unsent text messages, she weaves a tapestry of varied references, privileging the diversity of her individual experience.  At the upper edge of the present work, she asserts in thick, black font ‘When you’re with me I Feel’ – a deeply personal proclamation that forces the viewers eye around the canvas in search of an answer. This mediation is complemented by further inscriptions scattered throughout, one of which is adhered to the canvas on lined paper, appearing as a diaristic note pinned to a board. These contemplations, appearing at various degrees of legibility and scales, are at once insightful, assured, and probing.


    Raised in a creative household that encouraged her artistic pursuits, Yearwood-Dan emphasises inclusivity in her paintings. She invites everyone to pause and explore her art, which, owing to its scale and vibrant colour, demands attention and creates space for socio-political dialogue. As the artist explains: ‘as someone who fits under several marginalised identifiers it’s been an interesting time to navigate and these large, bold and colourful works exist to both give insight to my experience as well as to purposely take up and demand space’ii. Although inspired by artists as varied as Hilma af Klint and Chris Ofili - the latter’s painting No Woman, No Cry being formative in her decision to become an artist - her works are distinctly personal and contemporary. In the artist’s own words, her canvases represent the ‘diaristic, self-historicization of the emotions and feelings I’m going through.iii


    Collector’s Digest


    • In October 2022, Coping Mechanisms, 2021, sold through Phillips in London for £239,400 GBP, setting an auction record for the artist at the time of sale.

    • Recent solo exhibitions include the 2023 presentation Some Future Time Will Think of Us at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York and The Sweetest Taboo, staged in 2022 at Tiwani Contemporary in London. Yearwood-Dan is also represented in the ongoing group exhibition Soulscapes, currently on view at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. 

    • Yearwood-Dan's work is in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, and the Columbus Museum of Art.



    i Michaela Yearwood-Dan, quoted in Robert Diament and Russel Tovey, Talk Art, minute 22:58.
    ii Michaela Yearwood-Dan, quoted in Andrea Sacal, ‘Ten minutes with artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, as she launches her first US solo exhibition, be gentle with me, 10magazine, 27 August 2021. 

    iii Michaela Yearwood-Dan, quoted in Tess Thackara, 'Beyond Their Lavish Aesthetic, Michaela Yearwood-Dan's Paintings Make You Feel', Cultured, 8 December 2021.

    • Provenance

      Tiwani Contemporary, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property of a Distinguished American Collection


That your lovin’ makes it better

signed, titled and dated '"That your lovin’ makes it better" 2021 Michaela Yearwood-Dan' on the reverse
acrylic, oil, gold leaf, ink and paper collage on canvas
199.3 x 150.3 cm (78 1/2 x 59 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

£70,000 - 100,000 ‡♠

Sold for £241,300

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024