Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2024 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Key Hiraga (1936-2000)
Mr CJ Boot Shop(Painted in 1978)

Acrylic on canvas

45.5 × 53 cm. 17 7/8 × 20 7/8 in.

Signed in English and dated on bottom left; titled and signed in Kanji, signed in English and dated on the reverse
Private Collection, Asia

In Candid Language, the True Nature of Humanity
Pop Maestro Key Hiraga's Bold and Nuanced Art

Born in Tokyo in 1936, self-taught master of pop art Key Hiraga emerged in post-World War II Japan. Majoring in economics at university, he later worked as a tattoo shop draftsman in the lively Asakusa district. Driven by passion for art, he turned his observations into paintings. In 1965, he won the National Young Artist Award, earning an invitation to France. Settling in Pigalle, famous for the Moulin Rouge, he confronted human nature, flesh, and emotion. Employing flat, intense color fields and delicate lines, he created emotionally charged scenes, paving the way for the later Superflat movement led by Takashi Murakami. The element of "windows" held a crucial place in Hiraga's art. When MoMA curator William Lieberman visited his studio in 1965, he promptly added the series to the permanent collection, highlighting Hiraga's position in Western modern art history. In the early 1970s, he shifted from oil to acrylic, evolving towards a more concrete and realistic style. He held numerous solo exhibitions in France, the Netherlands, Japan, and gained increasing recognition.

The Fantastical World in the Shop Window

Created in 1978, Mr. CJ Boot Shop represents Key Hiraga's theme of "utopian lust of desire." Proficient in the use of acrylic, he demonstrated mastery in colour and composition, infusing the artwork with visual tension. The vividly portrayed eroticism strikes at the heart. The painting also highlights the artist's use of the classic element of "windows." The composition features four protagonists showcased in a storefront-like manner, resembling models in a shop, indifferent to the scrutiny of passersby outside the window. Two provocatively dressed women boldly reveal their bodies, legs sprawled open, wearing eye-catching attire and boldly coloured hair. The strong red-green color contrast is applied to the reclining woman's hair and polka dot skirt. The woman on the left wears a floral purple-red cardigan, with only red-green stockings and vibrant red high heels below, showcasing dominance as she stands with one leg on the thigh of the man beside her. The artist embellishes their special features with bright pink and purple, highlighting without being obtrusive, revealing the confident and uninhibited mentality of women at the time. In contrast, the two men appear reserved. Adorned in flashy suit and tie patterns, they exude the arrogance of capitalism. The man on the left, in a dark suit and round top hat, sits with knees close, seemingly sophisticated, unabashedly embracing the bare buttocks of his female companion. On the other hand, the second man, with his right leg raised on the woman's shoulder, hand in pocket, echoes the posture of the left female protagonist, tilting his head forward with a composed expression. Upon closer inspection, the models' feet, divided into four equal parts by straight lines resembling magnifying glasses, reveal four distinct shoes, each named and priced, serving both as the protagonists' attire and the shop's merchandise. The intricate details in this painting symbolize the artist's exploration of gender identity, sexual attraction, and consumerism, prompting viewers to critically contemplate these themes. The artwork perfectly embodies the artist's lifelong exploration of "human nature," delving deep into the soul.

Price estimate:
HKD: 60,000 – 100,000
USD: 7,700 - 12,800

Auction Result:
HKD: 98,400



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