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

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  • “Creating reaches us and reveals to us who we are. This is why I paint.”
    — Scott Kahn 

    Born in 1946, American painter Scott Kahn boasts an impressive oeuvre of enrapturing, atmospheric landscapes, all of which showcase the remarkably meticulous fashion in which he approaches his subject matter. Possessing a painterly aesthetic that, though reminiscent of American Regionalism, is completely unique, Kahn establishes himself as a true master of his craft, his refined brushstrokes building up into luxurious and lucid textures that imbue his enchanting dreamscapes with a sensuous mysteriousness. Having grown up in Springfield, Massachusetts, the artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, and he is constantly inspired by the obscure yet familiar sights of New York City— a recurring theme observable in many of his works.




     Left: the present lot

    Right: Lot 11, Matthew Wong, Pink Wave, 2017

     Phillips Hong Kong Evening Sale, 22 June 2022

    Estimate: HKD16,000,000 - 24,000,000



    Evoking the paintings of the late Matthew Wong, a friend and fellow artist whom Kahn credits with helping him revive his career, Kahn shares the former’s aesthetic of blending surreal and naturalistic imagery, building disorienting, otherworldly realms that allow for magical narratives to unfold. The present work, A Dream, depicts a lonesome subject who seems to be wandering an altered plane of reality, lost amidst a distorted vision of nature. The current work showcases Kahn’s masterful manipulation of perspective and depth, guiding the audience’s attention into an abyss of darkness by framing our line of sight with the use of a symmetrical, narrowing view.


    Though not intending to make any references to movements throughout art history, Kahn’s work is often compared to that of the Belgian Surrealist René Magritte, best known for transfusing the mundane into the uncanny. Like Magritte, Kahn subverts common perceptions of orientation and space, combining unlikely elements of nature and anatomy to create unsettling, psychologically arresting imagery.




    René Magritte, The False Mirror, 1929

    Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York


    Detail of the present lot



    Scott Kahn in Conversation


    In June 2021, Scott Kahn spoke with RDN Arts about how his magical, painterly universes search for the connections at the base of art and life, always inextricably linked to each other.


    RDN Arts: The allegorical and symbolic charge in your works is notable. Can you explain this choice and what is, according to you, the intersection of visual art and poetry?


    Scott Kahn: I had a particular interest in dreams, yin-yang symbol symbolism – and I guess I’m still painting in this kind of symbolic dreamlike way. You know, to me, it’s an elevated way to present my experience, and most importantly, it’s just my nature, and I can’t fight my nature. You might say it’s a subtext. It’s the way it’s reported to the viewer that suggests something beyond what is actually being seen. If I’m really successful, the painting achieves some poetic transcendence.


    RDN: You said to consider your work to be a visual diary of your life. How do you choose which images to represent? What is the process that leads you to a choice in the representations you carry into your art?


    SK: I wait for inspiration to pick up the brush and put it on canvas. It’s a little magical and mysterious. I often have to wait for that inspiration, that moment. The impulse that gets me to the canvas generally comes from something very recent in my life. Something I’ve seen, maybe even frequently. It could be a feeling. I don’t consider myself a conceptual artist, but I certainly want to express some symbolic and philosophical meaning through my work.


    Read the rest of the interview here.



    Kahn obtained a Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University in 1970, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. His distinctive oeuvre has received significant international recognition and critical acclaim throughout his career, including being the recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation award in 1986 and 1995, and a fellowship at the Edward F. Albee Foundation. 


    In July 2021, the Almine Rech announced their exclusive representation of Kahn, following on from their presentation of his works in One by One: Scott Kahn, which ran from 25 June – 11 July 2021. After the conclusion of his eponymous solo exhibition with Almine Rech Paris between 18 November – 18 December 2021, Kahn’s most recent solo exhibition titled Scott Kahn: The Walled City was held at their New York gallery from 3 May – 14 June 2022.



    i Scott Kahn, quoted in ‘Interviews we love: Scott Kahn’, RDN Arts, 2 June 2021, online

    • Provenance

      François Ghebaly, Los Angeles
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Scott Kahn

      Scott Kahn (b. 1946) is an American painter. He received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from Rutgers University. He is now best known for the explosion of his own market on the international stage late in his career and over the last five years. His subject matter reflects the people and places of America, primarily influenced by the bucolic landscapes and daily life of the northeast, USA.

      Kahn has been a recipient of awards from the Pollock Krasner Foundation and a residency at the Edward Albee Foundation in Montauk. His work is included in major corporations and two museums in China, including the Long Museum, and the ICA Miami in Florida. His work is in the collection of the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.

      View More Works


A Dream

signed and dated 'S. Kahn '85' lower right; further signed, titled, inscribed and dated '© 1985 all rights reserved by Scott Kahn KAHN "A DREAM"' on the overlap
oil on linen
45.6 x 45.5 cm. (17 7/8 x 17 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1985.

Full Cataloguing

HK$450,000 - 750,000 

Sold for HK$630,000

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