Yoshitomo Nara's House Installation with Paintings To Lead Poly Hong Kong’s Modern and Contemporary Art Sale


Coinciding with sensational Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s exhibition in Taipei, Poly Auction Hong Kong presents Nara’s large-scale house installation and two phenomenal paintings, which will go under the hammer in the upcoming spring auction in Hong Kong.

As the most expensive artist in Japan, Nara’s works almost never fail to command astounding prices at auction buoyed by record-breaking moments. 

We talked to Jamie Yu, Head of Modern and Contemporary Art Department of Poly Auction Hong Kong, to find out more about the installation and have a sneak peek at the highlight lots in the upcoming Modern and Contemporary Art sale.

Yoshitomo Nara (b.1959), Berlin Barack, Room 1
Executed in 2007
Mixed media installation
Provenance: (Organized by The Value)

  • Galerie Zink, Berlin, Germany
  • Christie’s Hong Kong Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, May 26, 2012, lot 2041 (Price realized: HK$11,300,000)
  • Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Dimensions: 263 x 317 x 279 cm

  • Yoshitomo Nara, Hothouse Doll, Painted in 2007, acrylic on canvas, 146 × 130.5 cm; and
  • Yoshitomo Nara, Three Sisters (Berlin Version), Executed in 2007, acrylic on wood panel, 102.5 × 183 cm

Estimate on request

Jamie Yu, Head of Modern and Contemporary Art Department of Poly Auction Hong Kong


Q: Can you talk to us about Nara’s Berlin Barack, Room 1?

Yu: Building on the two records for Nara’s artworks set in 2019 - by Not Everything but/ Green House and Not Everything but/ Orange House, we’re thrilled to present yet another phenomenal work of Berlin Barack, Room 1. 

Since 1984, house has been a recurring symbol in Nara’s work. Berlin Barack, Room 1 is a phenomenal house installation that converges such elements as children, music, little girls, and house. From Nara’s full involvement in the creative process, to the unique space and ambience the installation creates for the two paintings that are housed inside, the present lot is never-before-seen in the contemporary art scene.


Yoshitomo Nara, Not Everything but/ Green House installation

Not Everything but/ Green House was sold for HK$40,120,000, Poly Hong Kong, 2019

Embedded in the installation are Hothouse Doll and Three Sisters (Berlin Version), the two acrylic paintings that showcase the artist’s 30 years of creative focus.

The unique space of the huge installation is beyond being specifically tailored by the artist for his paintings. It builds an elaborated interaction between their creation, historical background and their audience. 

Set in an arena that transcends geographical barriers and time constraints, Nara invites us into the house through the installation’s lines of motion. There, his paintings no longer only reflect a single perspective, rather, a much broader vision creative outlook that resonates with our senses.


Yoshitomo Nara, Hothouse Doll, 2007

Yoshitomo Nara, Three Sisters (Berlin Version), 2007

Q: Nara’s large-scale installations are hardly seen at auction, how did the collector acquire Berlin Barack, Room 1? Was it a part of any public exhibitions?

Yu: The earliest provenance of Berlin Barack, Room 1 goes back to Galerie Zink in Germany. The current collector bought the artwork from a Hong Kong auction. Prior to that, the artwork was put on display in the exhibitions held in Berlin and Denmark. 
Most of the house installations by Nara are created for specific exhibition spaces, and usually broken down after the exhibitions, or taken to museums, leaving very few of those in private hands.


The Yoshitomo Nara exhibition, currently taking place at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei National University of the Arts


Q: Last year, Nara’s acrylic of the same title, Hothouse Doll, was sold for headline-grabbing HK$103m (US$13.3m). The present Hothouse Doll painting is even bigger in size, why is it not offered as a separate lot instead?

Yu: The result achieved by Hothouse Doll offered in our autumn sale last year was truly exciting. The 2007, larger iteration of Hothouse Doll, though is a standalone artwork of its own, the house installation was built by the artist as the most flawless setting to display the work. It just feels more complete to present the three intricately tied artworks together as a whole.

Another Hothouse Doll sold for HK$103m (US$13.3m) at Phillips and Poly Auction joint Hong Kong sale, December 2020

Q: What’s the presale estimate for Berlin Barack, Room 1?

Yu: The significance of Berlin Barack, Room 1 eclipses his previous three-dimensional creations. We’re likely to start the bid at HK$40m (US$5.1m) to encourage the participation of collectors worldwide.


Q: Some think that the art market’s appetite for Nara’s work has already reached its peak, and it’d be hard to once again reach the HK$200m mark. What’s your take on that?

Yu: Nara’s current record, Knife Behind Back, is a rare large-scale work. Yet if we factor in the dimensions of the two paintings, last fall’s Hothouse Doll renewed the record. With the artist’s exhibitions taking place in Taiwan and Dallas this year, we believe that Nara is still on a hot streak in the market.


Yoshitomo Nara making his appearance at the Taipei exhibition


Q: Besides Yoshitomo Nara’s works, who are some of the artists to highlight the upcoming Modern and Contemporary Art spring sale at Poly Hong Kong?

Yu: One of the stellar lots that you wouldn’t want to miss is a masterpiece by blue-chip abstract painter Zao Wou-ki. It’s an explosive work created during one of his two pinnacles, Hurricane Period.

Zao Wou-ki (1921-2013), 12.04.60
Painted in 1960
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 100 x 81 cm
Estimate: HK$45,000,000 - 65,000,000

There will also be works by Asian Modern masters. For instance, two large sculptures by Ju Ming and Li Chen respectively, among other contemporary Chinese works of art.

Ju Ming (b.1938), Taichi Series
Executed in 1991
Copper sculpture edition: 4/6
Dimensions: 212.6 x 170 x 271.7 cm with base
Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 9,000,000

Li Chen (b.1963), Avalokitesvara
Executed in 1999
Bronze sculpture edition: 3/6
Dimensions: 110 × 207 × 250 cm
Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 9,000,000

Liu Ye (b.1964), Yellow and Blue for M
Painted in 1995
Oil and acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 45 x 45 cm
Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000


Dates: April 18-20, 2021
Venue: Grand Hyatt Hong Kong | 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai

Auction details:

Auction house: Poly Auction Hong Kong
Sale: Modern and Contemporary Art 
Dates: April 21, 2021 | 4 pm
Venue: Poly Gallery Hong Kong | Suites 701-708, 7/F, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong