30th Nov, 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Lot 2
Lot 2 - Mustafa Maluka (South Africa 1976-)


Mustafa Maluka (South Africa 1976-)
I forgot where it all began

acrylic and oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2009
Exhibited: Tilton Gallery, New York, 'Mustafa Maluka: A Place So Foreign', 13 November to 24 December 2009.
Location: Johannesburg

Sold for R341,400
Estimated at R300,000 - R400,000


acrylic and oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2009
Exhibited: Tilton Gallery, New York, 'Mustafa Maluka: A Place So Foreign', 13 November to 24 December 2009.
Location: Johannesburg


183 x 133 cm


Private collection, Johannesburg.

Keyes Art, New York.

Tilton Gallery, New York.


Striking in scale, this fiercely alluring portrait formed part of Mustafa Maluka’s 2009 debut exhibition in New York, where he presented new works from his ongoing series of psychedelically-coloured portraits that illustrate the hybrid nature and nomadic lifestyle of young people in urban centres around the world. The title of the exhibition, A Place So Foreign – borrowed from the name of Cory Doctorow's 2003 science fiction volume – refers to the artist’s own experience as a global citizen, where cultures morph and merge.

Born in Cape Town, Maluka left for Amsterdam in 1998 to study at de Ateliers, after which he divided his time between Berlin, Helsinki and New York. For Maluka, his solo shows are like directing theatrical plays, where the paintings portray a cast of diverse enigmatic characters who, like the artist himself, inhabit plural worlds.

The faces of these transnational characters are densely painted – built-up layers of washes are juxtaposed with bold patterns and forms in various hues that determine the mood and tone of the work, without giving the subject a figurative context. About his portraits, Maluka states: “My characters have always been physically ambiguous, transracial and intercultural beings and their experience is, by definition, international”.[1]

I forgot where it all began, with the subject’s direct and intense gaze, is an exceptional example of Maluka’s highly stylized portraits that sees the artist pushing the boundaries of this art historical genre as he, like in Doctorow’s tales, explores aspects of pop culture, trash, cool, punk, nerd pride, and the nexus of technology and social change. In these paintings, Mustafa Maluka presents a view of the possible cultural and social futures that may arise – in our lifetime.

Marelize van Zyl

[1] Williamson, S (ed). (2009). South African Art Now. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. p. 226.


In 2009, the same year in which this painting was produced, another portrait painting by the artist was selected as the cover image for the seminal publication South African Art Now, edited by Sue Williamson.


The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, the Burger Collection, Hong Kong; North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina; Jimenez-Colon Collection, Puerto Rico and the Terrana Collection, New York.

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 30th Nov, 2022


The focused sale brings to market 84 highly collectable lots, with the diverse collection showcasing highlights by modern masters including magnificent still-life compositions and a Zanzibari boat scene by Irma Stern, an Alexis Preller abstract and an early JH Pierneef landscape. Also included is a significant collection of celebrated contemporary artists: Mustafa Maluka, David Koloane, Walter Oltmann, Norman Catherine, Willem Boshoff, a rare self-portrait oil by Robert Hodgins as well as a large bronze sculpture by Zanele Muholi, the first of this new body of work to be offered on auction.
The sale features a special selection of artworks by William Kentridge. One of the most celebrated and influential living artists today, his major retrospective exhibition is currently on show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. This is one of the most unique and high-quality Kentridge collections to come to market. Spanning his career and showcasing the many mediums in which he works, the sale features signature charcoal drawings alongside collages, tapestry, prints and sculptures.

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