WATCH out, Asia. Jeff Koons has arrived once again on your shore. Now reigning supreme as world’s undisputed top artist, Koons recently opened his first solo exhibit at the Gagosian Hong Kong and is training his magic once more on a local audience with pieces that both celebrate tradition and break away from it entirely.
In terms of the art market, Koons is at the top of his game with the highest auction return for a living artist. This was realized during a Christie’s New York Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale on November 12, 2013, when lot 2791, Balloon Dog (Orange), estimated at $35,000,000 to $55,000,000, fetched its final price of $58,405,000, the highest ever paid work for a living artist. This didn’t offset the realization that the mirror-polished multiple was only one of five permutations (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow).
Also as of the latest report by Artnet for November, Koons topped the hierarchy among the best of the best, in terms of the highest-selling lot in the secondary or auction market.
This has made expectation for the artist reach frenzied heights in Hong Kong, where Koons himself showed up for a press preview and opening night of Jeff Koons: Hulk Elvis at the Gagosian Gallery.
Koons said: “Hulk Elvis represents for me both Western and Eastern culture, a sense of a guardian, a protector, that, at the same time, is capable of bringing the house down.”
The collection features a charged mix of inflatable monkeys, geishas, birds, The Incredible Hulk, and The Liberty Bell jostling against realistically rendered landscapes, gestural paintings, steam engines and horse-drawn carriages, negative silhouettes and underlying dot screens. From the beginning of his controversial career, Koons overturned the traditional notion of art inside and out. Focusing on banal objects as models, he questioned standards of normative values in art, and, instead, embraced the vulnerabilities of aesthetic hierarchies and taste systems.
These thematics can be seen in the sculpture Hulks (Bell), where the artist transfixes the banality of balloon toys carrying an ancient Zhou ritual bell, which was once paraded on streets in the 17th century as a symbol of victory after a heightened battle.
The inclusion of the work in Hong Kong may be read as a symbolic gesture celebrating China’s forthcoming victory as the world’s premier economic power.
Jeff Koons: Hulk Elvis runs until December 20 at Gagosian Gallery, 7th Floor, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong.