7th Jun, 2023 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Lot 19
Lot 19 - Thierry Oussou (Benin 1988-)


Thierry Oussou (Benin 1988-)

acrylic, pastel, glue, tippex and collage on paper

Artwork date: 2018
Exhibited: Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, 'Thierry Oussou: Before It Is Completely Gone', 10 February to 16 March 2018.

Sold for R251,625
Estimated at R100,000 - R200,000


acrylic, pastel, glue, tippex and collage on paper

Artwork date: 2018
Exhibited: Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, 'Thierry Oussou: Before It Is Completely Gone', 10 February to 16 March 2018.


156 x 226 cm; framed size: 173.5 x 243.5 x 6.5 cm


Private collection, Pretoria.

Stevenson, Johannesburg.


This impressive, large-scale mixed media work on paper formed part of Beninese contemporary artist Thierry Oussou’s first solo show in South Africa, following a residency in Johannesburg in 2018. For his exhibition; Before It Is Completely Gone, Oussou took the city itself as his subject.

Operating as a ‘social archaeologist’, he makes use of his personal and direct experience of the physical spaces and places in which he finds himself to reflect on the social complexities and curiosities inherent in the present moment. Through his work, he then explores and addresses localised themes of identity, cultural heritage, social issues, migration and cultural assimilation as well as the complexities of postcolonial Africa by delving into the intersections of history, memory and contemporary society.

The visually captivating Lien (2018) is one such probing, yet poetic commentary on such political and social-economic concerns. Executed in a dynamic mix of ink, acrylic paint, graphite, oil bar and collage elements, this vibrantly bold and energetic semi-abstracted work is a stunning example of his practice of combining traditional African aesthetics (like specific symbols, motifs and imagery) with new conceptual approaches.

Although not straightforward representational – the composition is filled with Oussou’s rich visual and layered vocabulary of intricate line work and patterns, juxtaposed with figurative elements – the title of the work conveys the particular issue at hand: ownership and possession. A ‘lien’ is a right to keep possession of property belonging to another person until a debt owed by that person is discharged.

Oussou's art not only serves as a visual commentary on the African experience, but also provokes intellectual dialogue and engages viewers in questioning preconceived notions about culture, identity, and various social structures.

Marelize Van Zyl


In 2018, the same year that this work was produced, Thierry Oussou also exhibited at the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art and was the recipient of the 14th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts. He has participated in residencies at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam (2015), and Dokoutin, Brussels (2014), and exhibited at the Dakar Biennale in 2014. Other solo exhibitions were presented in London (2018) and Amsterdam (2019, 2021). He recently formed part of the large-scale exhibition Benin Art: Yesterday and Today at the Palais de la Marina in Cotonou (2022).

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 7th Jun, 2023


Aspire Art will impress collectors with this focused, boutique-style auction in Johannesburg. A feature of the carefully compiled collection is a strong focus on contemporary African artists. Collectors of contemporary works from Africa will be spoilt for choice with works by Thierry Oussou (Benin), Richard Mudariki (Zimbabwe) and Banele Khoza (Swaziland). Local contemporary favourites include Nandipha  Mntambo, Cinga Samson and Gerhard Marx amongst others. Contemporary photographers are also well represented with works by Aida Muluneh (Ethiopia), Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe) and South African international superstar, Zanele Muholi, while important historical images are included with works of Winnie Mandela by Alf Kumalo and a portfolio of twelve works – chronicling the hardships of apartheid – from Ernest Cole’s seminal House of Bondage (1967).

A highlight of the sale is South African modernist Alexis Preller’s, Adam (1972) – a recently discovered, never before seen, work forming part of Preller’s series of Adamic-themed works from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Other significant modern pieces include a unique terrazzo sculpture by Edoardo Villa, still lifes by Maggie Laubser and works by Cecil Skotnes, Walter Battiss and J.H Pierneef. 

The sale concludes with a special section of  William Kentridge editioned prints led by the impressive Blue Head (1993 – 1998).



Viewing will be open from  Friday 2 to Wednesday 7 June 8:30 to 16:30 and Saturday 3 June from 10:00 to 14:00.

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