Artsy Insider: The Artists to Watch during This Week’s London Auctions
By order of appearance: Ewa Juszkiewicz, Untitled (after Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun), 2021. Courtesy of Gagosian; Serge Attukwei Clottey, Relationship II, 2016. Courtesy of Creative Art Partners; Reggie Burrows Hodges, Seated Listener: Blue Gown, 2020. Courtesy of Karma; Oluwole Omofemi, Abeni 2, 2021. Courtesy of Out of Africa Gallery.
Welcome to Artsy Insider. This week, I’m looking at artists whose works are likely to see major results—and maybe set new records—at the Frieze Week auctions in London. I’m also sharing a collection of works by those artists that are all currently available on Artsy.
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By the Numbers
The Artists Poised to See Big Results at Auction
The chart above shows artists who have major pieces coming up for auction this week in London, and whose works have seen significant increases in the number of collectors inquiring about them on Artsy in the first three quarters of 2021. The Nigerian painter Oluwole Omofemi is having a breakout year on Artsy and beyond. His work first appeared at auction during an Artcurial sale in June, where the portrait Face to Face sold for more than four times its high estimate, or €18,293 ($22,000); the following month, at a Christie’s sale, his composition Soul Meditation II (2018) sold for more than six times its high estimate, or £27,500 ($38,000). The work of Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist Serge Attukwei Clottey initially made a splash on Artsy in 2017, when the number of collectors inquiring about his work on the platform more than tripled year over year; that year, he was featured in group shows at Los Angeles’s Ibid Gallery and UTA Artist Space, as well as Patricia Low Contemporary in the tiny Swiss ski town of Gstaad. This year is already far and away his biggest on Artsy, likely fueled by a solo show in the spring at Simchowitz Gallery and a major commission for the Desert X biennial. Works by both artists are on offer at Phillips sales this week that are likely to set new auction records, especially in Clottey’s case.
Featured Artists at London Auctions
This week, Artsy Curatorial spotlights works on Artsy by in-demand artists who will be getting collector attention at the London auctions. Highlights in this collection include works by Oluwole Omofemi, Serge Attukwei Clottey, and Meleko Mokgosi.
Painters Famous for Faceless Figures
Two of the artists with major works arriving on the secondary market this week are known for their distinctive—and distinct—ways of painting figures while concealing details of their faces. The California-born, Maine-based artist Reggie Burrows Hodges creates compositions tinged with an air of nostalgia that he builds with layers of acrylic and pastel atop a black ground, so that the figures appear as largely featureless silhouettes. The Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz, meanwhile, is known for her richly rendered riffs on Renaissance portraiture, in which she conceals the faces of her female sitters behind masks or elaborate arrangements of hair, cloth, and plants.
Both artists have seen rising collector demand on Artsy so far this year, with interest in Hodges’s work surging especially dramatically: The number of collectors inquiring about his work on the platform has increased more than sixfold compared to last year. This level of interest may partly have been fueled by his critically acclaimed debut solo show in New York, which opened at Karma in January. The gallery has also been showing his work regularly at major fairs. At the virtual edition of Frieze London in 2020, Karma offered two of his paintings, Black Ground: In Pursuit and Intersection of Color: Garden (both 2019), for $32,000 and $26,000, respectively. Primary-market prices for his work appear to be on the rise, because at the online-only edition of Frieze Los Angeles this past July, Karma was offering two works on paper, Spinning Dub Records in Newcastle and Bather and the Cleansed (Marble) (both 2021), for $25,000 each.
At Friday evening’s sale of 20th-century and contemporary art at Phillips, a collector who bought Hodges’s painting For the Greater Good (2019) from a solo exhibition at the Dowling Walsh Gallery in tiny Rockland, Maine, will be the first to test the secondary market for his work. The sun-splashed rendering of a courtside scene during a tennis match is expected to sell for a price between £30,000 and £50,000 ($40,000–$68,000), but don’t be surprised if a pitted rally between bidders ends up smashing those expectations.
Juszkiewicz’s works have only appeared at auction twice to date, selling for multiple times their high estimates on both occasions. Most significantly, in her auction debut at Sotheby’s in March of this year, her 2012 painting In the Park more than tripled its high estimate to sell for £107,100 ($149,000). That record will be tested twice this week, first at Sotheby’s evening sale of contemporary art on Thursday, when her 2013 painting Maria (After Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck) will be offered with an estimate of £30,000 to £40,000 ($40,000–$54,000). Two days later, at Christie’s day sale of post-war and contemporary art, her painting Grove (2014) will hit the auction block with an estimate of £25,000 to £35,000 ($34,000–$47,000).
There have been plenty of signals to bolster collector confidence in Juszkiewicz’s work in recent years, from Almine Rech becoming her representative in the U.K., Europe, and China in 2019, to Gagosian opening her first solo show in New York in late 2020 and then showcasing her work in a standout two-artist booth at Frieze New York this past May. On Artsy, collector interest in Juszkiewicz’s work surged in 2019, the year she joined Almine Rech, and has remained high since; 2021 is on track to be her biggest year on the platform—and in the art market more broadly.