AUCTION IN PARIS | Modern and Contemporary African Art

22 Jun 2020


Modern and Contemporary African Art

24 June, 2020 

Aspire Art Auctions presents a co-curated auction of Modern and Contemporary African Art in collaboration with French auction house Piasa, to take place in Paris on Wednesday, 24 June.

The debut of an African based auction house presenting a dedicated sale in Europe marks an industry first and confirms Aspire as the emerging global champion for African art at auction.


After the success of the landmark Aspire X Piasa auction in Cape Town in February 2020, a follow-up sale in Paris has been planned with great anticipation. Showcasing an impressive collection of 173 artworks by 85 artists from 19 countries on the continent, the upcoming large scale auction underlines the vitality and quality of art produced in the various major centres of West, East and Southern Africa as well as the diaspora. By bringing together artworks from across geographic lines, the sale introduces some of the most sought-after African artists, whose work is increasingly subject to international demand.


The auction opens with a special selection of works by artists now considered icons of modern Congolese art. The 2015 blockbuster exhibition Beauté Congo, hosted by Fondation Cartier in Paris brought to the fore many of these artists who had been trained at Atelier de hangar. The workshop, established by French artist Pierre Romain-Desfossés who moved there following WWII, would be where artists like Bela, Mwenze Kibwanga and Pilipili Mulongoy developed the distinctive styles and intricate iconography for which they are recognised today.

Lot 9: Mwenze Kibwanga, Untitled (retour de chasse), 1968 | Estimate: €10 000 – 15 000

Twenty years later in 1978, the ground-breaking exhibition in Kinshasa, Art Partout, revealed to the world the ‘popular painters’ of the Congo. A significant highlight is the striking painting J’aime la couleur (2004) by Chéri Samba, while works by Chéri Chérin, Moké  and the younger JP Mika show how these artists took stylistic cues from their immediate urban environment to create paintings easily recognised by their audience; reflective of collective memory, and social and political events.

Lot 45: Chéri Samba, J’aime la couleur, 2004 | Estimate: €20 000 – 30 000

Zulu Mbaye is a respected Senegalese painter whose active contributions in the cultural sphere since 1970 have seen him serving as the President of the National Association of Artists of Senegal between 1987 and 1989. He also exhibited at Dakar’s inaugural Biennial in 1992. Mbaye’s work shows his interest in African imagery, and is typically executed in striking colours and geometric symbols in an attempt to reinterpret and promote Senegalese cultural heritage.

Lot 15: Zulu Mbaye, Totem double | Estimate: €1 000 – 2 000

Works by artists like Ernesto Shikhani, Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, Alberto Chissano and Lipanga are representative of the artistic landscape of Mozambique in the latter part of 20th century. During the time of the country’s civil war, these Mozambican artists responded strongly to the events and sentiments of this period to address the suffering, challenges and losses of this time.

Lot 20: Ernesto Shikhani, Buria-Moc, 11 février, 1979 | Estimate: €2 500 – 4 500

Internationally renowned William Kentridge’s important 1989 drawing from Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (Soho Eating) is the featured cover work for the sale. Produced during a critical time in South Africa’s history as the country was on the cusp of radical political and social change, this drawing complements The Crossing (1987), one of Peter Clarke’s most powerful and politically charged works. This will be the first time that a work by this prominent South African artist comes to auction in mainland Europe.

Lot 107: William Kentridge, Drawing from Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (Soho Eating), 1989 | Estimate: €190 000 – 250 000

Other important and rare modern works from South Africa include JH Pierneef’s masterful depiction of the Golden Gate Highlands area, Irma Stern’s exquisite 1943 portrait of Dora Sowden, the eccentric music and arts critic for the Johannesburg-based progressive newspaper The Rand Daily Mail during the 1940s and 1950s, as well as an early bronze sculpture Figure with Drapery by Edoardo Villa.

Lot 27: Irma Stern, Portrait of Dora Sowden, 1943 | €150 000 – 250 000

The sale boasts a remarkably strong contemporary offering of exceptional works by leading names including Yinka Shonibare CBE (Britain-Nigeria), Nicholas Hlobo (South Africa), Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon), Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon), Omar Ba (Senegal), Mary Sibande (South Africa), Kendell Geers (South Africa) and Misheck Masamvu (Zimbabwe).

Lot 96: Nicholas Hlobo, Umfanekiso, 2012 | Estimate: €45 000 – 55 000


Works by rising stars include Kudzanai Chiurai’s (Zimbabwe) mixed media work Untitled VIII (Auto and the Workers Movement), an impressive large scale painting by Eddy Kamuanga (DRC), two installation based paintings by Simphiwe Ndzube (South Africa) and Peter Ngugi’s (Kenya) colourful rendering of contemporary pop-culture in Africa.

Lot 83: Eddy Kumanga, Untitled, 2018 | Estimate: €30 000 – 50 000

Exciting mixed media works that will attract interest are a Sanaa Gateja (Uganda) paper tapestry titled Twitter and the Ostrich, (2019), Dickens Otieno’s (Kenya) intriguing untitled wall-hanging of woven metal strips and the first ever appearance at auction of a textile work by the young and upcoming Siwa Mgoboza (South Africa).

Lot 123: Siwa Mgoboza, Bitch, You Betta Werk, 2017 | € 6,000 – € 9,000

Also on auction for the first time are two works by British born Tomi Olopade and a large scale collage work by the American Yashua Klos, which both address issues of identity, race, memory and community.

Lot 144: Tomi Olopade, Amy’s Bedroom, 2018 | € 3,000 – € 5,000

The sale concludes with an impressive collection of photography, including portraits by the late J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria) and activist photographer Zanele Muholi (South Africa) as well as a series of Malick Sidibé’s iconic images of youth culture in the 1960s and 70s in Mali’s capital city, Bamako.  Gelatin silver prints by Rotimi Fani-Kayode (Nigeria-Britain) and two images from Mohau Modisakeng’s (South African) Passage video, which was exhibited at the 57th Venice Biennale, also feature.

Lot 170: Zanele Muholi, Sasa, Bleecker, New York, 2016 | Estimate: €2 500 –3 500

Of major significance is a rare platinum print, seldom seen on the open market, by South Africa’s most lauded photographer David Goldblatt. The photograph A miner waits on the bank to go underground, City Deep Gold Mine, 1996 forms part of Goldblatt’s celebrated On the Mines series, a remarkable body of work which provides insights into the lives and difficult conditions of miners whose labour underwrote the South African economy and created extraordinary wealth. Two other highly sought-after photographs by Goldblatt are also on offer.

Lot 162: David Goldblatt, A miner waits on the bank to go underground, City Deep Gold Mine, 1996 (2_3041) | Estimate: €25 000 – 30 000


This partnership is another strategic move for Aspire to promote the international value of and appreciation for art and artists from Africa and South Africa in particular. Since 2016, Aspire has altered the local auction market. While the company has actively pioneered new sectors within contemporary art at auction, it was also the first to committedly promote undervalued 20th century black artists and the first to present a genuinely pan-African offering of modern and contemporary art to a global audience. The dedicated auction in Paris marks an important moment in the history and development of this segment in the global art market.


With the art market gradually re-opening in Europe to resume activities for the next quarter, indications are that Paris is set to continue the momentum it gained prior to the COVID-19 crisis. In 2019, France emerged as a new global art-market force with the country’s auction market growing a remarkable 49%. Paris is currently one of three leading cities for specialised sales of art from the African continent and a city where auction turnover from sales of modern and contemporary African art has almost quadrupled between 2017 and 2019.


Aspire MD Ruarc Peffers concludes: “It is our pleasure to collaborate with Piasa as we work together in growing and internationalising the market for modern and contemporary art from Africa. Our shared belief in the inherent quality, historical significance and value of African art supports our endeavours in working to build this market to levels comparable to its European and American counterparts.”



Modern & Contemporary African Art
co-curated with Piasa

Wednesday, 24 June 2020 at 6 pm
118 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honoré 75008, Paris

A fully illustrated catalogue of all the artworks on offer is available at:

Pre-auction estimates are listed in Euro.


Johannesburg: Jacqui Carney  +27 71 675 2991 |
Cape Town: Marelize van Zyl  +27 83 283 7427 |



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