Nikos Engonopoulos (Greek, 1910-1985) Adélaїde, la (grande) prêtresse du fétichisme 55 x 45 cm.

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 50AR
Nikos Engonopoulos
(Greek, 1910-1985)
Adélaїde, la (grande) prêtresse du fétichisme 55 x 45 cm.

Sold for £ 43,812 (US$ 58,624) inc. premium
Nikos Engonopoulos (Greek, 1910-1985)
Adélaїde, la (grande) prêtresse du fétichisme
signed in Greek and dated '77' (lower right)
oil on canvas
55 x 45 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Private collection, Athens.

    Exhibited
    Athens, Goethe-Institute, Imagination and Reality, January 16-31, 1978.
    Athens, 3 Gallery, Nikos Engonopoulos, retrospective exhibition, March 23 - April 15, 1981, no. 23 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue).
    Athens, National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum, Nikos Engonopoulos, retrospective exhibition, April 3-15, 1983, no. 98 (listed in the exhibition catalogue, p. 45).
    Thessaloniki, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Topos: Engonopoulos, May 18 - July 29, 2007, no. 11 (discussed and illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, pp. 16-17).
    Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art - Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Nikos Engonopoulos, 2017 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p. 131).

    Literature
    N. Engonopoulos, In the Vale of Roseries, Ikaros editions, 1978, p. 159 (illustrated).
    Tachydromos magazine, no. 1508, April 7, 1983, p. 28 (full page illustration).
    Sychrona Themata magazine, no. 35-36-37, December 1988, p. 274 (detail illustrated), p. 278 (detail illustrated).
    Eleftherotypia daily, June 6, 1996.
    E. Benisi, Nikos Engonopoulos and Cityscapes, doctoral dissertation, University of Athens, 2006, no. 116, pp. 149-150 (discussed), p. 150b (illustrated).
    Perpinioti-Agazir, Nikos Engonopoulos, Son Univers Pictural, exhibition catalogue and catalogue raisonée, Benaki Museum, Athens 2007, no. 1072, p. 198 (illustrated), p. 378 (illustrated), p. 515 (illustrated).
    N. Chaini, The Painting of Nikos Engonopoulos, doctoral dissertation, National Technical University of Athens, 2007, no. 312, p. 736 (discussed), p. 737 (illustrated).
    D. Menti, Faces and Masks, Gutenberg editions, Athens 2007, pp. 173-174 (discussed).
    Filologiki magazine, no. 101, October-November-December 2007, p. 48 (referred).
    N. Engonopoulos, Love is the Only Way, National Book Centre of Greece, Athens 2007, p. 63 (illustrated).
    O. Tachopoulou, Modernist Primitivism, Surrealist Versions in the Poetic Work of Nikos Engonopoulos, Nefeli editions, Athens 2009, p. 337-338 (discussed), no. 7 (illustrated).


    Is life, knowledge,
    the knowledge of life (of eyes as always)
    food for a gentle dream,
    or perhaps delirium?

    N. Engonopoulos 1


    In 1978, Nikos Engonopoulos, a leading figure of 20th c. surrealist art and literature, published his poetry collection In the Vale of Roseries, which included the poem Adelaїs of the Hierophants, accompanied by an illustration of his 1977 painting Adelaїs the Great High-Priestess of Fetishism. While the poem emphasizes the multi-faceted vocabulary of the eyes, the picture features an amputated woman-mannequin with no eyes—not even a face—except for a black carnival mask, sensual clothing and accessories. Beside her, the also amputated torso of a male nude draws attention to the obvious similarities and differences between the two figures. It seems that one of the things they share is a rather detached and sagacious approach towards life, articulated in the poem: Is life, knowledge / the knowledge of life (of eyes as always) / food for a gentle dream, / or perhaps delirium? This question echoes the riddle of the Sphinx, the answer to which revealed Oedipus's understanding of the nature of human existence, becoming in surrealist hands an inquiry into complex psychological issues2 (compare N. Engonopoulos, Rien dans la vien'est une énigme, Bonhams Greek Sale, 25/11/2014, lot 15).

    As noted by Dr. O. Tachopoulou, "in Adelaїs the Great High-Priestess of Fetishism, Engonopoulos creates objects-fetishes that allude to the custom of primitive cultures to attribute magical properties to various objects, while his corresponding poem associates fetishism with the divination powers of the hierophants (In my view, / accountable / for the priestly oracles / will be the hierophants of the Temple / of the life [the glory] of eyes).3 One of the fetishes used by Engonopoulos is the mask. In the first decades of the 20th century, African masks from Gabon and Congo exerted a strong influence on the Parisian avant-garde and inspired Picasso who saw them as magical objects, as fetishes, that could liberate humankind: "The masks weren't just like other pieces of sculpture... They were magic things... I always looked at fetishes... But all the fetishes were used for the same thing. They were weapons. To help people avoid coming under the influence of spirits again, to help them become independent."4

    As perceptibly noted by N. Loizidi, "Adelaїs the Great High-Priestess of Fetishism includes many erotic fetishes that function as Freudian symbols (birdcage, open hat box, long-neck bottle, lamp, mystifyingly covered objects). The figure of the high-priestess results from the combination of a dressmaker mannequin (in a tight, provocative corset, blonde wig, black wide-brimmed hat) and a mask. As it is widely known, the mask owes its power to the unspoken promise of eventually revealing what is so diligently concealed. In the case of the great high-priestess Adelaїs however—a case not so rare after all—this diligently hidden truth is but an illusion, a spectre. Ultimately, the only existing reality is the (specious) game played on us by our own desires."5

    1 N. Engonopoulos, In the Vale of Roseries, translated by D. Connolly in Nikos Engonopoulos, The Beauty of a Greek, Ypsilon editins, Athens 2007, p. 203.
    2 See D. Menti, Faces and Masks [in Greek], Gutenberg editions, Athens 2007, pp. 173-174.
    3 O. Tachopoulou, Modernist Primitivism, Surrealist Versions in the Poetic Work of Nikos Engonopoulos [in Greek], Nefeli editions, Athens 2009, p. 337-338.
    4 As quoted in S. Lemke, Primitivist Modernism. Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic Modernism, Oxford University Pres, Oxford 1998, pp. 36-37.
    5 N. Loizidi in Topos: Engonopoulos [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki 2007, p. 17.
Contacts
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories, buyer's premium excluding Cars, Motorbikes, Wine and Coin & Medal sales, will be as follows:

Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000.

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalog.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
AR Artists Resale Right

Goods subject to Artists Resale Right Additional Premium.