Collaboration is what pushes great minds, ideas and opportunities forward – and a very unlikely but nonetheless successful collaboration, is the coming together of Asian pop icon, Mr. Choi Seung Hyun (stage name T.O.P), and global art auction giants, Sotheby’s. The project began a year ago, with the aim to support students and artists involved in every aspect of the creative industry (T.O.P, 2016). Aptly titled #TTTOP x Sotheby’s, T.O.P guest-curated the Contemporary Western and Asian Art Autumn sale’s selection. The auction was a resounding success, exhibiting from 29th September – 3rd October. Realising a total of US$17.4 million (Sotheby’s, 2016), the auction drew in the attention of younger audiences and art elites, united in the love of art and curious to see the curative taste of the Kpop star. Last week, HausMag had the opportunity to view the exhibit and works up close.

#TTTOP x Sotheby’s | Photography courtesy of Hypebeast

“That is my greatest joy: supporting the creators who have continuously influenced me in music, and acting, in terms of expression.”

T.O.P (Sotheby’s, 2016)

#TTTOP x Sotheby’s Entrance | Photography by Sonia Wan, HausMag

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are first greeted with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Infantry (1983). This piece brings to thought a quote from Pablo Picasso; “It takes a long time to become young”, for Infantry holds such whimsy in it’s brush stroke and name. However, with closer inspection, the work is perhaps not so innocent. “Wo Bin Ich?/ Where am I?” helps us decipher the painting. There appears to be conflict, as a man holds a gun and another is on the floor. The execution of this scene of public disturbance in a vibrant, comic-book composition is an interesting juxtaposition; evoking the spirit of the New York art scene at Basquiat’s prime.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Infantry” (1983) | Photography courtesy of Sotheby’s

Gokita Tomoo’s “Divorce” (1969) is your classic, instantly striking abstract-figurative piece. The more you look, the more you see. “Divorce” brings forth a combination of narratives; Film Noir, Surrealism, Cubism, Neo-Expression, Graphics Design. The abstraction of the faces through illustrative strokes in greyscale is ambiguous but detailed enough to connote the features of a man and woman. The technical skill to do this, and the self-editing involved to achieve this work is a testimony to Tomoo’s artistry.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s "Infantry” (1983) | Photography courtesy of Sotheby's

Gokita Tomoo’s “Divorce” (1969) | Photography courtesy of Sotheby’s

Paik Nam June’s “Fat Boy” (1932 – 2006) is charming in construction and story. Also called “The Robot’s Salute”, this installation piece raises a robust TV-arm in salute to it’s creator, at the 10 year anniversary of the artist’s death. Constructed with seven monitors, and a vintage TV case and cabinets. It plays a single-channel video, reminiscent of glitch art. Paik Nam June, “Father of Video Art” revolutionised installation as the first to embrace technology in the 1960s. Amalgamating science, engineering, and fine art, his work still celebrates and subverts our relationship to technology today.

Gokita Tomoo’s “Divorce” (1969)

Paik Nam June’s “Fat Boy” (1932 – 2006) | Photography courtesy of Sotheby’s

Unbeknownst to non-fans of T.O.P, the rapper is in fact an avid art collector. His social media handles are known to feature his favourite works and random bauhaus furniture – in particular chairs. “Infantry” joined the auction as a gesture of support from renowned Japanese art collector, Mr. Yusaku Maezawa, a friend of T.O.P’s. The Korean modern masters, Kim Whanki and Lee Insung also happen to be his blood relatives. In his interview with Sotheby’s, T.O.P shares how he was raised in an artistic family: “All the women in my family, including my mother, majored in art. They were all either artists or art teachers”. 

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#TTTOP x Sotheby’s | Photography courtesy of Hypebeast

The collection celebrates the rise of new and important Asian artists who were presented alongside their Western counterparts – uniting various generations, cultures, styles, and schools of thought (Sotheby’s, 2016). Other notable works include Jonas Wood’s “Untitled, Red and Pink on Tan” (1977), Korean master Kim Whanki’s “Flight” (1913 – 1974), Jeff Elrod’s “Ice Age” (1966), and Kanji Teppei’s “Avalanche” #1 and #2 (1978). At T.O.P’s request as Guest Curator, a portion of the US$17.4 million will be donated to the Asian Cultural Council (ACC).

“Some say that meeting your ideal partner is a work of destiny. I would say the same for the chances of coming across a great artwork.”

T.O.P (Sotheby’s, 2016)

Special thanks to Sotheby’s for press materials.

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