Aspire X PIASA shakes up SA auction market

20 Nov 2019
Aspire Art Auctions has announced a groundbreaking and unique partnership initiative, which commences with its next auction sale on 14 February 2020, at OroAfrica House, 170 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. The auction house has teamed up with PIASA, a French auction house based in Paris which has a growing reputation for innovation and strategic thinking in the European market. The collaboration focuses on work from Africa, and represents the first time a South African auction house has teamed up with a European equivalent to host a sale of African art in Africa.
Marlene Dumas, Oktober, 1973
African art, especially contemporary African art, is considered one of the fastest growing and most exciting art market segments in the global art industry. While other auction houses have and continue to offer sales of African modern and contemporary art, this generally takes the form of art from Africa being exported to and sold in the major European and US markets. Says Aspire MD Ruarc Peffers, “Aspire decided to partner with PIASA in order to circumvent this one-directional outflow of art and capital out of the African art market, and we were interested in the fact that PIASA has a well-regarded and established department of Contemporary African Art”. Christophe Person, head of the department, comments, “We really believe in the value of the work in this segment, and that the African market generally is under-represented and undervalued. Our dedicated department is seeing significant success, and we feel that we’ve only scratched the surface of the potential that exists. From our point of view we’re very excited by the possibilities of a collaboration with an innovative, dynamic young African auction house like Aspire, situated in one of the biggest and most sophisticated art markets on the continent”.
Bambo Sibiya, Autumn 2020
Marc PadeuUntitled, 2018
Simphiwe Ndzube, Autumn 2020

Both auction houses will consign work to the auction, and highlights include the sale’s lead lot, a spectacular early painting by South African/Dutch painter Marlene Dumas, entitled Oktober 1973. Dumas has become a leading light of the global auction market, at one stage holding the record for the highest price at auction for a living female artist, and buyers will be eager to acquire this magnificent example. Other important contemporary work on sale from South Africa includes pieces by Mustafa Maluka, Bambo Sibiya and Simphiwe Ndzube. From further afield on the continent, the auction will present work by Kenyan artist Peter Ngugi, Mozambican Ernest Shikhani, and work by hot young Cameroonian artist Marc Padeu, who had two paintings sell on PIASA’s most recent auction in Paris at €195,000 (euros) each.

“Our announcement of this collaboration is a statement of intent”, says Peffers. “Our aim is to see more of the proceeds of the exceptional art produced on this continent returned to the producers and fabricators on the continent, and to feed into the economies and value-systems in Africa. As we look to diversify geographically a partnership of this kind, with a kindred spirit in the shape of PIASA, makes economic and business sense, but also meets our vision of Aspire as a progressive and representative African auction house.”

Ernest Shikhani, Untitled, 1972
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