Art comes in different forms and categories and there has been a heated debate about what can be considered as art. To explore the notion of “All Art Are Toys, All Toys Are Arts”, Christie’s, in collaboration with Michael Lau, will present a private selling exhibition featuring over 40 unconventional, graphic, and three-dimensional works in the coming April.
Michael Lau, also known as “Godfather of Designer Toys”, is an acclaimed Hong Kong artist born in the 1970s when the city was at the peak of industrialization and exported various kinds of toys to leading stores around the world. He has developed a growing passion for toys and eventually works as a toy designer. He is widely recognized as the pioneer who launched the trend in the 90s.
Salvator Mundi, Leonardo da Vinci
The most striking one of all works presented is Salvator Michael, in both painting and 3D format, in which the artist uses his likeness, emulating the pose of Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi. Salvator Mundi was sold at Christie’s New York for a record-breaking US$450m in November last year.
In this work, the large capsule toy in his left hand is written with “Crazychildren”, referencing the artist’s Crazychildren series, which features nine figures each coming with a distinctive segment, that could be detached then re-assembled again to form a figure depicting Michael. While the right hand of Salvator Michael with fingers crossed blesses collectors in their pursuit to "collect them all", referring to their desires to grow their art collections.
Michael rose to popularity with his Gardener action figure series, first unveiled in 1999, kickstarting the global "ARTOY" cultural phenomenon. The selection of action figure characters was inspired by his friends, which included graffiti artists, skateboarders, DJs and rappers, who are passionate about street culture.
Michael Jordan and Michael Lau
Jordon (the right one) in the Gardener series
Jordon, which pays tribute to the Wall of Jordan, is one of the most popular characters of the Gardener series. The images of these figures have been transferred onto paper boxes, which when unfolded become a sketch pad, transforming the work into a new medium.
Under the “Remember-Disc · Time-Table”, Michael draws inspiration from Scandinavian vintage wooden tables and discs, emulating their shapes and textures on canvas, then layering phrases and imagery to create eye-catching pieces that push the boundaries of his expressive style. The paintings will also be featured alongside their related sculptures.
In Package-Change, Michael examines the pivotal role attractive packaging plays for toy collectors, and the lengths manufacturers take to ensure this. He examines how people attempt to change their own exterior “packaging” to gain acceptance and recognition with their peers. Reflecting this concept are paintings depicting the packaging of five toys,and three-dimensional sculptures enveloped in acrylic resins.
Christie’s Hong Kong & Michael Lau Private Selling Exhibition “COLLECT THEM ALL!”
Dates: 2018/4/11 - 27
Venue: James Christie Room
Address: 22nd Floor, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong