Eclectic Modern & Contemporary Art from the African Continent

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Launch Slideshow

Sotheby’s fourth dedicated auction of Modern and Contemporary African Art will take place in London on 2 April 2019 and will include a specially curated collection of paintings, photographs, drawings and sculpture from the 20th and 21st centuries from across the African continent. Our sales in this category have broken over 50 artist records and have attracted collectors from 33 different countries across 6 continents, championing the work of artists from the African continent and underscoring the global interest in this collecting category in today’s market. Highlights from this sale include works by respected artists, including El Anatsui, Hassan El Glaoui, Skunder Boghossian, Ibrahim El Salahi, Ben Enwonwu, Ablade Glover and Cheri Samba.

Eclectic Modern & Contemporary Art from the African Continent

  • El Anatsui, Zebra Crossing 2
    Estimate £550,000-750,000
    Zebra Crossing 2 demonstrates the artist’s ability to effortlessly manipulate aluminium bottle-caps to make the glittering metallic tapestries for which he is best-known. The artist’s retrospective Triumphant Scale is now open at Munich’s Haus der Kunst and will travel to Doha later this year. El Anatsui will also represent Ghana at the Venice Biennale this year in a national pavilion co-curated by the architect Sir David Adjaye.
  • Hassan El Glaoui, La Sortie du Roi
    Estimate £80,000-120,000
    Painter El Glaoui has risen to international acclaim and is credited as one of the pioneers of contemporary art in Morocco. The artist expressed gratitude to Winston Churchill for his career; during his visit to Marrakech in the 1940s, the Prime Minister convinced El Glaoui’s father, the last Pasha of Marrakech, to allow the budding artist to pursue his artistic vocation.
  • Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, Preparation of Incense - Zār Ceremony
    Estimate £70,000-90,000
    Kamala Ishaq was a founding member and leading figure of the Khartoum School, along with Ahmed Shibrain and Ibrahim El-Salahi, who in the 1960s aimed to create a visual language that reflected a newly independent Sudan. She is recognised as a feminist icon and one of the most important female artists operating on the African continent today.
  • Chéri Samba, J'aime la couleur
    Estimate £40,000-60,000
    Samba was one of four self-taught Congolese artists who, in a newly democratic 1970s Kinshasa, founded the movement known today as Popular Painting. The genre plays with satire, irony and humour to address everyday life in the capital including social, political and economic issues.
  • William Kentridge, Head
    Estimate £30,000-50,000
    Starting in 1992, Kentridge created a series of monumental drypoint prints of a head. The artist created orange, blue and green heads, though the green was never editioned. Head, by one of South Africa’s most treasured artist, depicts a man’s head in dry point, covered with orange handpainting. The head is titled backwards, eyes closed. Kentridge exposes the carotid artery, signalling triumph or even possibly defeat. Known for creating editions of wonderfully ununiform prints, much of Kentridge’s work explores the history of apartheid and the social injustice experienced by many.
  • Maggie Laubser, Landscape with hut, fowls, pawpaw tree and seated figure
    Estimate £30,000-50,000
    Maggie Laubser’s paintings are expressionists visions of how she saw the world. Depicting flowers, animals, farm works, cottages, huts and the landscape that surrounded her, Maggie Laubser’s paintings celebrate harmony on earth and ‘the miracle of creation’. Along with artist such as Irma Stern, Laubser is credited with introducing Expressionist painting to South Africa.
  • Skunder Boghossian, Harvest Scrolls
    Estimate £30,000-50,000
    Skunder Boghossian was fascinated by the ethereal quality of Ethiopian illuminated parchment scrolls and used them as a principal inspiration in his paintings. The artist’s work gives life and movement to objects that otherwise would remain static. Music, jazz in particular, was important to Skunder’s working process, the technicolour scrolls that appear to sway, twist and fold across the suspended rods echo the happiness the artist experienced during the creative process.
  • Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Palm
    Estimate £25,000-35,000
    The classical poses and rich drapery of the Ilunga’s monumental figurative paintings are reminiscent of European Old Masters, while reflecting both the rapid modernisation of Kinshasa, Africa’s third largest city and the artist’s home town, and the resulting uncertain sustainability of the broader heritage and daily rituals of the Mangbetu people.
  • Ibrahim Mahama, Rafia EB X
    Estimate £20,000-30,000
    Mahama is best-known for stitching together these jute sacks, synonymous with Ghana’s trade history, to create large textiles which are often dropped over architectural forms in large site-specific installations. Mahama will represent Ghana at the Venice Biennale this year in a national pavilion co-curated by the architect Sir David Adjaye.
  • Trigo Piula, Fwambasi
    Estimate £20,000-30,000
    Often incorporating Western themes, symbols, products or people into his works, Frederic Trigo Piula highlights the history of the western world in Africa and its impact on daily life. In Fwambasi, the artist places a traditional fetish figure, which is believed to be able to cure all illnesses, in the centre of the composition surrounded by various modern medicines. These medicines, which despite helping to cure one’s illness, do not guarantee survival. Here the artist comments on the importance of combining both traditional and modern forces in order to perfect the healing process.
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