Lot 65
  • 65


15,000 - 20,000 GBP
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  • Bodys Isek Kingelez
  • Seattle 
  • mixed media 
  • 115 by 60 by 60cm., 45¼ by 23½ by 23½in.


Galerie Magnin-A, Paris 
Acquired from the above by the present owner 


The following condition notes are in line with the age of the piece and the nature of the medium. Some wear traces to surface as well as minor yellowing and discolouration of paper throughout. Also, some minor bubbling/buckling/waving/ of paper throughout. Minor dents and small punctures to the structure in places. Scattered minor surface marks. Dog ears and minor bends to paper in places, largely within the star base and to the 'E' on Seattle. Minor tears and minor lifting of surface in places. Gold lining within the tower exhibits a light buckle. Indentation to the inner frame within the top of the tower. On inspection, adhesive residue present between paper and other elements of the work, which has begun to yellow. Various areas where cello tape is beginning to lose adhesiveness. Possible three missing sticks on one side of the tower. Three sticks have become unglued on the other side of the tower and are held together by a thin piece of paper. These sticks can easily be reattached. There are minor splintering and minor separation to the wooden support on the star base. This one that this work has previously undergone some restoration. External report available upon request, please contact the department.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

In 2018, MoMA hosted a complete retrospective of Bodys Isek Kingelez’s work, making him the first black African artist to ever enjoy a solo show at the renowned institution. Spanning over three decades of creation, Kingelez: City Dreams featured a selection of work by the Congolese artist, much of which had rarely been seen before. Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948-2015) was born in the rural village of Kimbembele-Ihunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then the Belgian Congo). Growing up with eight siblings in a family of agricultural laborers, he began his life as a teacher. In 1978, Kingelez abandoned this profession thanks to the realization that he wanted to contribute, in his own way, to the fight for a decolonised Africa. The artist recounts:

‘I combined all my efforts so that Africa would always be heard. I had the conviction to find the best way of obtaining my objectives, and so I began a repertoire of ideas within the little room I was living in at that time. Then, for about a month, I went through a troubled and vague period and it was at that moment that I was overcome with an almost obsessive desire to pick up a pair of scissors, a Gillette razor, glue and paper.'

Kingelez was working during an era of tremendous change. Straddled between colonial and post-colonial periods, he used his work to envision a forward-thinking, peaceful and prosperous future, untainted by economic disparity. His political engagement continually manifests itself in his sculptures.

The artist used brightly coloured commercial packaging and commonplace materials, such as milk cartons, bottle caps and razors, to create utopian worlds complete with dream-like pavilions, skyscrapers, pagodas and even completely original constructions. The artist’s cityscapes are flamboyant and fantastical metropolises; worlds where racial and geopolitical barriers come tumbling down. Kingelez’s 'extreme maquettes' echo the physicality of the industrialized city that he grew up in. His vibrant yet orderly cities reflect the impact of Space Race-influenced Soviet architecture on a newly post-colonial Africa as well as the Art Deco buildings of colonial times. Kinshasa presented Kingelez with a patchwork of structural and design inspiration.

The present lot references the looming skycrapers of the city of Seattle; the artist saw skyscrapers as an inescapable reality of modern life. The bursts of colour differentiate the structure from any other municipal building we recognize. Kingelez offers an optimistic alternative to his experience of urban living, inviting the viewer to join his idealistic world with the phrase ‘Well Come to Seattle’ written on the façade. Kingelez uses a bright blue to highlight the unusual flame-like shape of the building, adding movement to this otherwise static construction. This sculpture embodies Kingelez’s playful approach to design.

Works by Kingelez can be found in many prominent private collections and have been featured in numerous key international exhibitions such as Beauté Congo at the Foundation Cartier (Paris), African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection at the Museum of Fine Art Houston (2005) and the traveling Africa Remix Contemporary Art of a Continent (2004).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Beauté Congo, Fondation Cartier, Paris, 2015-2016, p. 253