Mon, 17th Jul 2017 17:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 31
Lot 31 - Nhlanhla (South Africa 1960-2003)


Nhlanhla (South Africa 1960-2003)
African mask

oil on canvas

Sold for R43,198
Estimated at R40,000 - R60,000

Condition Report

Canvas loose, surface dirt, paint slightly dry.

Please note, we are not qualified conservators and these reports give our opinion as to the general condition of the works. We advise that bidders view the lots in person to satisfy themselves with the condition of prospective purchases.


oil on canvas


113 x 73.5 cm

Acquired from the artist.


Nhlanhla Xaba’s career is in many ways an exemplar of the plight of black South African artists trying to forge a career during the 1980s – perhaps the most blighted decade of South Africa’s history under the scourge of apartheid. Born in Springs on the East Rand of Johannesburg in 1960, he matriculated in 1981 and went on to study art at the Rorke's Drift centre in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The centre closed down soon after he joined and he subsequently worked as a labourer until he could finance a semi-formal art education through the African Institute of Art at the Funda Art Centre in Soweto in 1986, partly under the activist theatre practitioner Matsemela Manaka.A respected figure amongst his peers, Xaba first worked with the Bayajabula Cultural Group (a multimedia group of visual artists, musicians and performers) in the early 1970s. Later, his peripatetic art teaching and efforts to broaden his own education took him to such places as the Open School in Pimville, the Alexandra Art Centre and the Independent Visual Art & Craft Academy in Germiston, between 1987 and 1990. In 1993, he co-founded the Artist’s Proof Studio, where he taught until 2003 and which would be the site of his tragic early death, aged 43, in a fire which razed the studio buildings.While Xaba participated in numerous local and international exhibitions, and held four solo shows later in his career, access to earlier opportunities was undoubtedly stifled by his struggles to educate and express himself in the institutional art world – opportunities denied to him by a discriminatory system, which he later defeated by winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1998.Perhaps best known for etchings and prints, his subject matter often concerned his attempt to “convey the painter’s struggle”, as he put it. He often focused on issues arising from social injustice and education in particular, and concerns around HIV/Aids, refugees, and what constitutes African identity and place.The three works listed here are in the media of painting and drawing, and convey a strong sense of Xaba’s characteristic graphic style. His lifelong passion for art education shines through in the interesting and collectible drawing in tribute to Ernst’s mid-20th century sculpture, intriguingly ‘Africanised’ in Tribute to Max Ernst, ‘Le Capricorne’.

James Sey

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Mon, 17th Jul 2017

Aspire Art Auctions’ second Johannesburg sale offered a selection of some of the best works produced by local and international artists available on the local market. Offerings included Cameroonian-born, Belgium-based, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Chilean, Eugenio Dittborn, and South Africans, William Kentridge, Kendell Geers, Louis Maqhubela, Cecil Skotnes, Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern, and Mohau Modisakeng, amongst others.

The sale was led by an international auction record of R1 200 320 achieved for a drawing, Children under Apartheid, by exiled South African artist Dumile Feni, as well as the successful sale of top international lot Golden Mask by renowned performance artist Marina Abramović. 


Friday 14 July 2017 | 10 am – 7 pm
Saturday 15 July 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 16 July 2017 | 10 am – 4 pm

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