TO SLEEP, OR NOT TO SLEEP - THAT IS THE QUESTION
signed in English and dated 2016, framed
T.O.P personal pillow, silkscreen, acrylic box
pillow: 20 (H) by 41 by 71 cm; 7⅞ (H) by 16⅛ by 28 in.
Estimate ( 12,893 — 19,340 USD)
To sleep, or not to sleep - that is the question (Lot 622) comes to the present auction directly from T.O.P's bedroom. The illustrated pillow was specially commissioned by T.O.P and features the quintessential psychedelic Murakami Takashi flower and a signature by the artist. One of the most visible living artists of our time, Murakami has rocked the world with his ubiquitous anime-inspired Superflat art, a movement created by the artist that refers to the flattened aesthetic of Japanese graphic art forms. The candy-colored smiling flower is the artist's most emblematic motif: entrenched in the ancient Eastern practice of decorative flower painting, Murakami engenders a new expression for Japanese high-art that comments on the contemporary world's pervasive and highly commercial visual culture.
Meticulously silk screened and signed by the master artist of our time, the present work was used personally by T.O.P on an intimate daily basis and now placed carefully in an acrylic box like a sculpture—a phenomenon that throws a cynical question to viewers: what is high art? With such an extraordinary provenance that engages critically with Duchamp's Fountain or Jeff Koons' New Hoover Convertibles, the piece is set to excite T.O.P followers whilst posing a controversial agenda to the world.
PIXCELL - T.O.P (DOOM DADA)
executed in 2016
19.3 (H) by 26 by 18.3 cm; 7⅝ (H) by 10¼ by 7¼ in.
Base: 10 (H) by 26 by 18.3 cm; 4 (H) by 10¼ by 7¼ in.
Estimate ( 6,446 — 10,314 USD)
PixCell - T.O.P (DOOM DADA) (Lot 601) is a specially commissioned work created by acclaimed contemporary artist Nawa Kohei, a personal friend of T.O.P who has worked with him on a number of artistic collaborations. The unique piece ensconces T.O.P’s limited edition DOOM DADA toy in glittering orbs of crystal glass, transforming the figurine into a bizarrely exquisite ornament. Developed over the course of more than a decade, Nawa’s acclaimed PixCell series seeks to destabilize the phenomenon of human sense and perception, reminding viewers of the ambiguity that underlies truth and reality. The series name ‘PixCell’ is an amalgamation of the words ‘pixel’, which describes digital image resolution, and the biological ‘cell’ – the simplest form of the organic world. Finding inspiration in life’s tiniest building blocks, Nawa puts forth a shrewd commentary on the contemporary world’s obsession with viewing and filtering the world through pixels—via cameras, smartphones and surveillance technology—which both distorts and illuminates the world we live in. By blurring the lines between form and content, illusion and truth, Nawa’s PixCell series is in equal parts contemplative and iridescently mesmerizing, constituting a truly iconic magnum opus in 21st Century contemporary art.
executed in 2016
oil on canvas
162 by 162 cm; 63¾ by 63¾ in.
Estimate ( 7,736 — 10,314 USD)
In View (T.O.P) (Lot 620), acclaimed young artist Tomita Naoki transforms an Instagram post hand-picked by T.O.P into an exquisite oil painting. Specially commissioned for the sale, the painting exemplifies Tomita's uncanny ability to instill magic and vitality into the ordinary and quotidian. The young artist is renowned for his virtuosic replications of photographic images that constitute a unique brand of figurative abstraction. His thick big strokes of pigment dissolve into gestural abstraction when viewed up close; a few steps back, however, a clear-cut image emerges, almost photorealistic in precision. A tactile exuberance emanates from the quiet nondescript scenes of everyday life, conjuring up a rich and alluring visual experience. The present lot thus offers a twice-reconstructed outlook of an ordinary city street, first through the lens of T.O.P's smartphone, then via Tomita's singular and accomplished painterly expression.
The musician, rapper, actor and art collector known as T.O.P has been a member of Asia’s reigning K-pop band, BIGBANG, since 2006. Wildly popular in Asia and on the verge of becoming a global sensation, K-pop combines hip-hop, pop and electronic music into a hybrid genre that pushes boundaries in a post-postmodern whirl of musical styles, international fashion trends and synchronised dancing. It is perhaps not coincidental that K-pop’s cultural and geographical mash-up is congruent with T.O.P’s taste in art. Over the past few years, the 28-year-old multi-hyphenate has been steadily acquiring works by such blue-chip names as Gerhard Richter and Rudolf Stingel while also collecting Asian artists, including Takashi Murakami, Kohei Nawa and Park Jina, many of whom are his friends.
“Western collectors tend to focus on Western contemporary art, but in Asia there is an openness to combining both,” says T.O.P. He has become a model for a new generation of Asian collectors who, just starting out, are expanding the definition of what a contemporary art collection can be.
That progressive attitude guided his curatorial approach to #TTTOP, a special auction of Western and Asian contemporary art that will be held at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on 3 October.
The sale is the result of a yearlong collaboration between the auction house and T.O.P, and a portion of its proceeds will be donated to the Asian Cultural Council, which provides opportunities to emerging Asian artists. His choices, he explains, reflect his “eclectic personal taste and wider vision for contemporary art as a whole”: Kohei Nawa, Teppei Kaneuji, Tomoo Gokita and Park Jina; American postwar icons Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring; and works by Korean masters such as Park Seobo, Lee Ufan, Chung Sanghwa, Paik Nam June and Kim Whanki.
As it happens, Kim Whanki (1913–1974) was one of many painters in T.O.P’s extended family. Although the young star grew up surrounded by artists, he rejected the notion of becoming one himself. But he confesses to having always had an acquisitive side. “I have always been a collector,” he explains. “I started when I was a child, collecting toy blocks.”
As a teen, it was limited-edition sneakers. “It wasn’t exactly the shoes that excited me,” T.O.P says. “I simply got a kick out of the sight of similar objects lined up neatly, one next to another.” His fascination with the phenomenon of variation within a single category continued in his early twenties, when he started buying the work of important modern designers like Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé.
Some of those design pieces make a memorable appearance in scenes from the artful black-and-white video for T.O.P’s hit single “Doom Dada,” released in autumn 2013. Directed by Seo Hyun Seung in collaboration with T.O.P, “Doom Dada” is notable for its sophisticated visual imagery. Full of stylistic and thematic nods to the films of Ji-woon Kim and Stanley Kubrick, the video layered with high-art allusions, including the title’s obvious homage to the early-20th-century avant-garde movement, a name-drop of Basquiat, and sets that feature the design objects from the singer’s collection against the backdrop of an enlarged reproduction of a painting of a deer – one of Kim Whanki’s best-known works. In T.O.P’s world, art is never far from the music.
In fact, among several new collaborative pieces created especially for the Sotheby’s auction is a work by his friend Nawa is directly connected to “Doom Dada.” One of the Japanese artist’s signature PixCell figures, PixCell-T.O.P (DOOM DADA), represents the singer with another character from the video, both depicted toylike, holding hands and covered with tiny transparent bubbles.
Co-producing works for the sale with Nawa, as well as with Murakami and others, was particularly enjoyable for T.O.P, who is respected for his dedication to supporting emerging talent in Asia. As he sees it, the #TTTOP auction represents the ideal opportunity to promote Asia’s cultural assets to a global art world – and to his more than 5 million Instagram followers. “With so much interest in Korean music and culture right now, it’s a good time to bring attention to young artists,” he says. “I’m like an ambassador.”
The full auction catalogue with his other collaborations is up here.
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