Treasures & Trailblazers: Aspire Art Auctions sets the stage for exciting sale of Modern and Contemporary Art in Johannesburg.
With a strong focus on South Africa, the sale at Aspire Art https://aspireart.net/ also proudly represents artists from 10 African countries (Benin, DRC, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe) and international artists from Europe, the UK and USA. More than half of the lots on offer are by artists of colour, with over a third by women artists. Rare and important historical works are presented alongside an impressive and diverse collection of contemporary art which accounts for a solid 70% of the sale. Photography and new media works make up over 30% of the collection, while 12 new rising stars are introduced.
The leading lot in the sale is an exceptional early painting by Gerard Sekoto titled In the beer hall. Painted before Sekoto permanently left South Africa in 1947, it was first exhibited at Gainsborough Gallery in Johannesburg circa 1939/40.. Another important painting from Sekoto’s ‘golden-era’ period on auction is the radiant Portrait of a young woman. Early paintings by Sekoto of this quality are very rare and seldom come to market.
Two impressive works by Sekoto’s brother-in-arms, George Pemba, also feature. Both painted in the 1970s, a period of great artistic maturation for Pemba, The Wedding and Congregation are exemplary of Pemba’s unique social realist works.
A great highlight is Edoardo Villa’s monumental steel sculpture titled Traverse from 1957. Also on offer is Villa’s impressive Standing Form, a large vertical figure of tubular forms epitomising South Africa’s rapidly growing industrialisation in the 1960s and 70s.
Works by Ablade Glover, Peter Clarke, Gladys Mgudlandlu, Helen Sebidi, Jackson Hlungwani, Speelman Mahlangu and Diederick During further complement the modern offering.
Headlining the contemporary section is a collection of significant works by William Kentridge, spanning his career. The spotlight falls on the limited edition bronze sculpture set Three Sisters (Sister Cone, Sister Box, Sister Fan) which underlines Kentridge’s masterful use of medium and materials. Produced in 2016, each sculpture takes the form of a human torso with their heads transformed into a propeller fan, a cone dial and a cubic box. Cast in bronze, they are meticulously painted to appear as if made of wood, cardboard and fabric. Ideas around the technological transformation of the human, so beloved by the avant-garde, are beautifully realised in these delightful works, which were recently exhibited in Kentridge’s retrospective Why Should I Hesitate at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town.
The two gracious Dancer Twice charcoal drawings from 1996 are unique for their sublime beauty. Complementing these drawings are two sets of prints Dancer Twice and Dancer Twice (Reverse), each with their own distinctive handmade elements. This editioned series, made from the original drawings also on sale, marked the birth of digital printing in South Africa. By working with charcoal and wash on the prints, Kentridge transformed each into a unique piece.
Works by eminent contemporary artists include early ceramic sculptures by Nicholas Hlobo from his Sit - on or stand up and be counted installation; Sam Nhlengethwa’s large oil and collage on canvas interior diptych; a large bronze sculpture titled One Party State (2010) by Brett Murray, and a captivating bust by Wim Botha from his Witness series. A welcomed addition is Gerald Machona’s delicate work The Tulip (Turkey).
Of the powerful women’s voices featured in the sale is Penny Siopis with a striking painting Spirit Matter (2016) rendered in ink and glue on canvas. Others include Judith Mason’s visually captivating paintings, Diane Victor’s large-scale triptych No Hope, No Guts, No Glory (1991), and significant photographic and performative works by Zanele Muholi, Berni Searle, Tracey Rose, Mary Sibande, Bridget Baker and newcomer to auction Khanyisile Mbongwa.
Following Aspire’s recently achieved world record at auction of €34,150 for a single photograph by renowned photographer David Goldblatt in Paris in June, four scarce and highly sought-after photographs from his Particulars, Johannesburg, Some Afrikaners Photographed and Fietas series are offered as part of an outstanding photographic range which further includes photos by Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Hasan and Husain Essop, Jo Ractliffe and Guy Tillim.
Available on auction for the first time locally is a sculpture by El Loko whose permanent installation can be seen at Zeitz MOCAA, and a large expressive painting from by George Hughes titled Yellow Rage.
Concluding the auction with delightful humour is Robert Hodgins’ vibrant painting, A Suit of Flames and a Brooks Bros’ Shirt from 1997.
Aspire Art Auctions, Illovo Edge – Building 3, Ground Floor, 5 Harries Road, Illovo, 2196
Aspire Art Auctions is a South African-based, specialist auctioneering company formed in the climate of the country’s rapidly growing art industry. At the core of Aspire is a small team with unequalled knowledge and experience in the South African art industry – the primary market, the secondary market, the museum industry, and historical and contemporary discourse.
Our exclusive focus on art is forward-looking and ensures a greater relevance to today’s context. Targeting the upper end of the market, Aspire offers quality work by twentieth century practitioners, as well as identifying and presenting the strongest examples of contemporary art. Our curated and focused auctions are presented with historical and cultural contextualisation and the best possible display platforms.
Our pioneering approach to the development and eco-system of the market, encourages diversity and inclusivity. Aspire’s engagement within the market extends across the whole spectrum of the industry, from the artist, to the collector, and all the structures in between. We work closely with South Africa’s top conservators, framers, curators, specialists and arts writers and academics. This symbiosis ensures the highest standard for both our buyers and sellers.
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