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 19. Sóia dona mu Retratos pra inglês ver serie     .

NSAAP Public Vote Prizewinner

René Tavares

Sóia dona mu Retratos pra inglês ver serie

No reserve

Lot Closed

February 22, 05:18 PM GMT


4,000 - 6,000 USD

Lot Details


René Tavares



Sóia dona mu Retratos pra inglês ver serie

signed and dated 2021 (lower right); signed, titled and dated 2021 (on the reverse)

acrylic, charcoal, pigment, China ink on canvas

165 by 165cm., 65 by 65in.

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

René Tavares (b. 1983, Sao Tomé and Principe) is an artist whose work reflects on the African diaspora and the rhythms of communities that overlap time and place, and dilutes the watertight borders between domains. In creating work across a range of media, his practice reflects a personal experience of passages, exploring the threshold spaces between various artistic languages, between Africa and Europe, between the local and the global. Through questioning borders his work intends to awaken political awareness and social empowerment by creating a sense of restlessness, contained in visual artistic language. 


Sóia dona mu Retratos pra inglês ver Serie is from the series Portraits for English to see and is the result of research that starts from archive photographs to painting. The title is based on an old Portuguese idiomatic expression "This is only for English to see!" (“para inglês ver”) that was originated around 1830 when England demanded Brazil make laws that prevented the slave trade. But those laws had little or no impact. Nowadays a “para inglês ver” project is one which, from the outside, appears to address a problem, but which in practice is merely a superficial change. For Tavares, it is about remembering the plantations in São Tomé and the period after the abolition of slavery. The workers were carefully prepared for inspection and forced to act out an illusory staging that perpetuated the maintenance of a system based on human exploitation. The basis of this work is to remind us of a historical past that it is important to recover and reckon with.