The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022 Benefit Auction | Hosted by Sotheby’s

The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022 Benefit Auction | Hosted by Sotheby’s

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 22. Refuge.

Alexandra Karakashian


No reserve

Lot Closed

February 22, 05:21 PM GMT


3,000 - 5,000 USD

Lot Details


Alexandra Karakashian

South African



signed and dated 2021 (on the reverse)

used engine oil, black pigment and sunflower oil on canvas

150 by 106cm., 59 by 42¾in.

Please be aware of the Conditions of Sale when bidding. As a benefit auction, there is no buyer’s premium charged. The only additional costs due to the winning bidder are applicable sales tax and shipping. Works auctioned are sold “as is,” and condition reports are included with lot descriptions as available. In-person previews of the auction artwork will be available at Norval Foundation at 4 Steenberg Rd, Tokai, Cape Town, 7945, South Africa from 26 January – 22 February, Monday to Sundays 9 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Tuesdays). Please note that while this auction is hosted on, it is being administered by Norval Foundation (“the museum”), and all post-sale matters (inclusive of invoicing and property pickup/shipment) will be handled by the museum. As such, Sotheby’s will share the contact details for the winning bidders with the museum so that they may be in touch directly post-sale.

This work has been kindly donated by the artist

Alexandra Karakashian (b. 1988, South Africa) is an artist working through personal and family history. In her work, she draws on her grandfather’s escape from the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and reflects on current issues of exile, migration and refugee-status. Process and materiality is key to her practice. 


Refuge is part of a larger series of works where engine oil is painted onto an unprimed canvas. Active and alive on the surface the oil seeps into the canvas creating a halo of fading black oil from its darkest point. It seeps at an imperceptible pace, asking of its viewer to pause and look for longer in hope of offering a space of refuge. Karakashian’s work gains its strength, by paradoxically refusing easy, puerile communication, as her canvases propose a meditation on a ubiquitous and intense relationship on the colour black. In the formal level, among the materials, engine oil, an unorthodox substance able to translate the presence of one of the dynamos of modernity, the era of displacements and exile.