Modern & Contemporary art auction
Modern & Contemporary african art during Aspire’s traditional spring auction will be held on September 1st in Cape Town. It will present a special focus on the artist William Kentridge. The artist recently opened his first international exhibition of monumental sculptures at the Norval Foundation, accompanied by a complementary exhibition of drawings at the ZEITZ Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA).
William Kentridge (B.1955 South Africa)
William Kentridge was born in 1955 in South Africa, and still lives and works in Johannesburg, the city of his birth. Now world renowned for his diverse artistic practice featuring drawing, film work with animation and live action, sculpture, printmaking, painting, stage direction and design for theatre and opera, it was always drawing which lay at the heart of his artworks. It is drawing, principally in charcoal, which informs his works in other media, especially the animated films based on multiple mark making and erasures which brought him to the world’s attention. Since the 1990s, his work has been exhibited and held in major museums and their collections around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, The New Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Louisiana Museum Copenhagen, Sint-Janshospitaal in Bruges, Belgium, the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Modern Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Producing a sweeping set of scenes, Summer Graffiti possesses a kinetic quality and a magnetic attraction which draws the viewer ever closer. Calling to mind Kentridge’s highly regarded films and processional works, the ‘frames’ exhibited within the set animate the print series. Add to this the dynamic shifts in gaze within the various prints, and the viewer becomes complicit in the interactions of the subjects as they, on the one hand, observe the subjects gazing at one another and, on the other, find themselves confronted by the gaze of the subjects themselves. At a time when Kentridge was contributing to a fundraiser for his old school he found the impetus for the series in a teacher’s manual. The iconic blackboard visible in the set acts as a representational tool for the expression of erotic desires. Known for his depictions of the internal desires of human beings as socially unacceptable, Kentridge alludes here to those hidden impulses.
Billie Zangewa (b.1973 South Africa)
“Billie Zangewa uses silk to create intricate tapestries that reflect light in different ways, based on the position of the viewer relative to the artwork. This results in artworks that appear to dance and perform as the gaze changes and the viewer moves around the image’s environment. Artworks that defy replication in print media or on a computer screen, these are sensory objects that must be viewed in person. Zangewa grew up in Gaborone, where there was limited availability of an artist’s usual infrastructure – no studios, no printing presses, none of the typical materials one would normally associate with the creation of fine art. From this came something remarkable. “To make art I had to use what was available” explains the artist, “[m]y creativity comes from lack – I had to work from scratch”. Born in Malawi, growing up in Gaborone, now living and practicing in Johannesburg, Zangewa explores her intersectional identity in the contemporary context, “constantly challenging the historical stereotyping, objectification and exploitation of the black female body”. Her work is concerned with her lived experience, domestic preoccupations and the underlying universal themes that connect us to each other. The present lot was produced while Zangewa was staying in Europe. The artist said she went to the Cotswolds on a trip for her birthday in the middle of winter during a phone conversation. For her the area is the most beautiful part of England. She was particularly drawn to the town’s architecture and the barren winter trees. The piece is a celebration of the beauty of the place.” Ruarc Peffers, Managing Director at Aspire Auction.
Nandipha Mntambo (b.1982 Swaziland)
Drawing upon a rich tradition of art historical and mythological references, Nandipha Mntambo’s striking self-portrait is a composite in which the artist performs both subjects. The resulting image is tensely ambiguous: both minotaur and woman are frozen in medias res, with a multiplicity of possible outcomes. Nandipha Mntambo was honoured with the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2011. Her work has been exhibited at the South African Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, 2015; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC and the Zeitz Museum for Contemporary Art Africa, among others. Kathryn Del Boccio.
Diane Victor (B.1964 South Africa)
Diane Victor (b. 1964 in Witbank, South Africa) has established herself as a major figure in the South African and International art communities and is renowned for her expert printmaking and draughtsmanship. Victor positions herself within the South African art scene through her bold confrontations with difficult and at times taboo subject matter. At times, her work seems to pose challenges to social and political life in contemporary South Africa, considering issues of corruption, violence and an unequal power distribution. Recently Artskop met her during her residency at Atelier le grand village in Charentes. Moreover, works by Diane Victor will be exhibited at the next London edition of the 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair with Atelier le Grand Village. Find out more about Diane Victor here.
This large-scale etching from Diane Victor’s Four Horses series was exhibited as part of her Transcend solo exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in 2010. It is a striking work in which an image of a seemingly valorous, apocalyptic horseman on horseback appears as the harbinger of a different era. The rearing horse traverses history, casting a shadow of destruction which is rendered as a detailed aerial view of a historical European city. Victor’s command of mark-making to depict the subject in hauntingly fine detail is evident. She is a master draughtsman and an expert printmaker – here incorporating various traditional techniques with digital printing to heighten meaning. A renowned figure in South African and international art, Victor has exhibited widely at major centers including MoMA in New York.
A George Pemba’s painting (South African 1912–2001)
This George Pemba work from 1979 clearly demonstrates his mastery of the social realist painterly idiom. The interior domestic scene, given a clearer context by its title, is full of the kinds of characterisations and implicit narratives that were typical of Hogarth in the eighteenth century. As with that predecessor, Pemba’s keen eye for detail offers a glimpse into a way of life for urban black South Africans that is gently humorous but also pointed. The gusto with which the old man in the foreground is drinking from the tin, on his haunches, counterpoints the admonishing gesticulations of the dominant woman figure in the midground, as if cautioning against too much celebration of the just-finished initiation ceremony
Dumile Feni (South African 1942–1991)
Dumile Feni’s 1986 drawing, entitled Mother and child , not only explores an established and ubiquitous iconographic convention in art history but one that is also pervasive in his own oeuvre. In fact, his earlier portrayal of Mother and child circa 1966 was once found intolerable by a reviewer, pointing to its disturbingly ‘ugly’ appearance. This compulsion wasn’t about luxuriating over largely Western art historical mores as these relentless returns to the theme were very personal for the artist. Feni lost his mother at a very young age, and was brought up by his older sister, fondly known as Kulie.
Edoardo Villa (South African 1915–2011)
Villa’s genius lies in this extraordinary capacity to conjure images of our time and place from the contemporary industrial materials being generated by new technologies. Janus, produced in 1988, is no exception. Bright yellow emerges from the powerful black forms of Janus that can be viewed in the round. In Roman myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. As a god of transitions, he has functions pertaining to birth, journeys and exchange, and is associated with travelling, trading and shipping. Villa’s modernist vision was shared by his great friend, Carmel Back, one of the first woman architects to shape the evolving image of Johannesburg. They recognised each other as fellow visionaries and, according to Back’s daughter, enjoyed a lasting friendship during which they met regularly on most Saturdays to people gaze and gossip over coffee. Villa created Janus as a house-warming gift to the architect for her new home in Parktown, which featured prominently in design publications in the early 1990s.
Cecil Skotnes (South African 1926–2009)
Skotnes, throughout his long career, was noted for his work on carved, incised and painted wooden panels. His central position in and influence on South African art history derives not only from his pedagogical work at Polly Street or even in his membership in the influential 1960s Amadlozi Group. It is much more, as this work reflects, about his long-term search for an adequate visual vocabulary to express his position as an artist wrestling with a European cultural and artistic legacy, and at the same time shaping an African visual idiom. His figural depictions mark most clearly the ongoing inflections he gave to this quest, changing subtly throughout his career, but very definitely marking out his work as characteristically Skotnes.
For more information, inquires or to access to the complete catalogue, please contact Aspire Art Auction.