African Modern & Contemporary Art

Congolese Art Shines at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary African Art Sale

By Adriana La Lime

Sotheby’s second sale dedicated to Modern and Contemporary African Art realised a grand total of £1,802,750 GBP/£2,555,038 USD against a pre-sale estimate of £1,167,500-1,707,000 GBP-$1,654,698-2,419 331 USD. The sale set 14 auction records for artists such as Bodys Isek Kingelez (lot 11), Dominique Zinkpè (lot 43, 44), Ibrahim Mahama (Lot 55), Aboudia (Lot 51, 52), Frédéric Bruly Bouabre (Lot 18,86), Claudette Schreuders (Lot 71, 72,73) and the young Congolese artist Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga (Lot 24, 25).

Work by artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) performed particularly well selling 12 out of the 14 lots on offer and accounting for £331,875 GBP of the £1,802,750 GBP sale total. Boasting artists such as Moke, Chéri Samba, Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Bodys Isek Kingelez and Aimé Mpane, amongst others, the Democratic Republic of Congo is quickly proving that it is indeed a force to be reckoned with.


Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga led the way with Mangbetu. This 2m by 2m oil and acrylic on canvas achieved £65,000, storming past its pre-sale estimate of £8,000-12,000. At just 27 years old, the artist will debut a new collection of work in his second solo exhibition at the October Gallery in London this May 2018.

BODYS ISEK KINGELEZ, BASE KING , 2000. ESTIMATE £10,000-15,000. SOLD FOR £42,500.

Bodys Isek Kingelez’s ‘maquette’ achieved a record breaking £42,500 (est. £10,000-15,000). This prolific Congolese artist is known for his sprawling utopic architectural landscapes, which were heavily inspired by the mega city of Kinshasa as well as post-colonial Soviet space-race architecture. The artist modelled his creations off of recognisable structures such as pagodas or skyscrapers but also invented his own obsessively detailed buildings, creating a model that tried to present a new and more pleasant way of living.


Recognised as the most well-known artist to emerge out to the DRC and no stranger to the auction world, works by Chéri Samba proved popular. Sotheby’s sale featured six works by the leader of the Popular Painting Movement, with a work from the well-known J’aime la couleur series achieving £50,000 against an estimate of £20,000-30,000.

Our Modern and Contemporary African Art specialist will be in Brussels offering free and confidential appraisals on 19 and 20 April. Artists of interest include William Kentridge, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Chéri Samba, Yusuf Grillo, Irma Stern, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Gerard Sekoto, Ben Enwonwu, El Anatsui, Ibrahim El Salahi and Abdoulaye Konaté among many others.

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