Miwa Komatsu - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Tuesday, June 21, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “I do not sketch or do any prep work. I attempt to get to the visions that are behind the artwork, praying and meditating every morning is part of my method. It is similar to fixing on canvas images of things dropping down from heaven into my head. They could be kind of coded in a way, I decode them by turning them into art and symbols.” 
    Miwa Komatsu

    Born in Nagano, Japan in 1984, Miwa Komatsu is best known for her depictions of mystical “Divine Spirits” – fantastical creatures that dwell within the artist’s heart and stem from her love of tradition. As exemplified by Stairs of Twilight Time, these figurines display a potent visual feast, exuding a strong presence with their full compositions of vibrant hue and rich texture.


    The present work (right-side) exhibited at Hong Kong, Whitestone Galley, Miwa Komatsu: Divine Spirit, 25 March - 28 April 2019
    Image Courtesy of Whitestone Gallery


    Komatsu’s close relationship with nature, interest in Japanese mythology, and the wider spiritual themes of mortality and legendary beings, all reflect in her paintings, as she draws from these concepts to present her unique perspective on the harmonies of pure living and the cycles of life. In Stairs of Twilight Time, an amber-eyed, dragon-like mystical beast dominates the entire canvas, its head and floating beard commanding the centre of the picture plane whilst its sinuous legs and claws spread into the corners, swirling and overlapping with clouds of ochre yellow and sky blue. First unveiled in the Miwa Komatsu: Divine Spirit solo exhibition held at Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong, between 25 March - 28 April 2019, the present work masterfully captures the artist’s distinctive visual language.


    When viewed at a close distance, the dramatic tension of the painting is almost overpowering as the majestic beast makes its presence known with utter ferocity and grandeur. Next to it are two Komainu, a pair of guardian lion dogs rendered in violet and green, who guard the upper and lower right corners of the canvas respectively. The winding brushstrokes that are pervasive in the image are reminiscent of the textural quality of embroidery, all of which contribute to a rich and dense visual experience that is at first glance, captivating.



    Miwa Komatsu painting in her studio 
    Image Courtesy of Whitestone Gallery 


    Komatsu’s painting process is very performative and dynamic, as the gestures of the artist’s paintbrush transmit through her entire body as she moves around her works in progress as if following the steps of an interpretive dance. Following this quick, confident approach, Komatsu applies thickly deposited paint to her canvas to create undulating textures that extend outwards, imparting a sculptural quality to her work that nods to the artist’s background in copperplate engraving.


    Komatsu’s work has been widely exhibited in Asia, Europe, and America. Her ever-growing presence in the international art sphere is made evident by her popularity amongst private collectors and institutions such as the British Museum and World Trade Centre. Since 2021, Komatsu started focusing on contemporary environmental issues as she was appointed an ambassador of goodwill by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan that same year. Her latest exhibition—Spirituality and Mandala—was recently held at Zenkoji Mae Tatehonzon Gokaichō Memorial Zenkoji History Museum from 25 March - 20 June 2022. A new exhibition titled Transparent Chaos: Spirituality and Mandala will commence at Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki from 25 June – 28 August 2022.


    In 2015, Komatsu’s Arita porcelain work, titled Guardian Lion Dog: Heaven and Earth was displayed at Chelsea Flower Show, and was subsequently included in the permanent collection of the British Museum, making her the youngest artist in their permanent collection at the time.


    • Provenance

      Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Hong Kong, Whitestone Gallery, Miwa Komatsu: Divine Spirit, 25 March - 28 April 2019


Stairs of Twilight Time

signed, inscribed and dated '2019 kong 1 Miwa Komatsu [in Japanese]' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
130.4 x 194.3 cm. (51 3/8 x 76 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2019, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Whitestone Gallery.

Full Cataloguing

HK$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for HK$1,512,000

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 21 June 2022