Aspire Art Auctions makes debut hit online

06 Sep 2017

Aspire Art Auctions’ first Timed Online sale, which closed on 4 September, presented a range of affordable fine art selected to appeal to both new and seasoned collectors. The successful results of the sale are indicative of the rising popularity of the online arena, which has come to represent 8.4% of the overall art market globally.

Invaluable.com, Aspire’s online partner, reported that the Timed Online auction attracted bidders from; Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA.

Marion Arnold’s watercolour depiction of the familiar Zimbabwean landscape in Matopos was undoubtedly an auction highlight, embodying her looseness in style as well as her affinity for the natural environment. Although Arnold is widely known as the author of the monograph Irma Stern: A Feast for the Eye (1995), her art has not yet received its due recognition at auction. Reaching a closing bid of R16 800, her work surpassed estimates to achieve a significant new auction record for the artist.

Lot 87 | Marion Arnold | Matopos | 1989 | pencil, ink and watercolour | 57.5 x 78.5 cm

Encouraging results were achieved by several previously under-represented South African artists, including a number of important Rorke’s Drift printmakers. Works by Azaria Mbatha and his student John Muafangejo both reached the higher end of their estimates, while Judas Mahlangu’s lot of three works considerably outdid estimates.

Lot 119 | Azaria Mbatha | Scenes from the Old Testament | woodcut | 32.5 x 55 cm

Several works by Durant Sihlali were positively received by buyers. Regarded by respected art historian, Colin Richards, as “central to a founding generation of black South African modernists”, Sihlali’s distinctive contribution to the development of South African art has been hitherto largely overlooked.  The sale of District Six Corner of Hanover Street for R8 400, signals a welcomed increased momentum in Sihlali’s market.

These results confirm Aspire’s ongoing contribution to the development of this market.

Lot 197 | Durant Sihlali | District Six Corner of Hanover St | watercolour | 42.5 x 58.5

The online auction has furthermore indicated the increasing demand for good quality works on paper. Works by Tranksei artist Xakasa Nomandla performed consistently, whilst Sithembiso Sibisi’s Amazayoni sold for R14 560, more than five times the high estimate. This demand was further affirmed by competitive bidding on paper works by South Africa’s seasoned artists including Robert Hodgins, Sam Nhlengethwa and Paul Stopforth. Deborah Bell’s etching MA UBU Political Advisor (R13 440), and Diane Victor’s charcoal work Afrikaans Taal Atlas (R13 440) also performed well.

Lot 118 | Sithembiso Sibisi | Amazayoni | 1995 | lithograph | 29 x 19.5

Lot 11 | Deborah Bell | MA UBU Political Advisor | 1997 | etching, drypoint and chine-collé | 47.5 x 32.5 cm

The 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner, Beth Armstrong, made her auction debut. Aspire was proud to present her portfolio of etchings To Skip the Last Step which exceeded expectations to sell for R14 560. Armstrong’s exhibition in perpetuum is currently on show at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, and will be exhibited at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town later this year.

Dutch artist Lucebert’s Kodak sold for R25 300 against an estimate of R4 000 – 6 000, indicating the increasing traction Aspire is gaining in the international market. Several of Johan van Heerden’s abstract works achieved hammer prices well above their high estimates. Finally, books on local artists sold particularly well, with R1 456 achieved for the monograph on artist Ephraim Ngatane titled A Setting Apart, published in 2009.

Lot # | Lucebert | Kodak | 1967 | charcoal, watercolour and collage | 35.5 x 48.5 cm