14th Feb, 2020 20:00

Aspire X PIASA | Modern & Contemporary African Art

Lot 44
Lot 44 - Cecily Sash (South Africa 1924–2019)


Cecily Sash (South Africa 1924–2019)
Birds (from the Migration series)

oil on canvas laid down on board

Artwork date: 1975
Signature details: signed and dated top right

Sold for R204,840
Estimated at R150,000 - R200,000


oil on canvas laid down on board

Artwork date: 1975
Signature details: signed and dated top right


122 x 182 cm


By the mid-70s Cecil Sash, already an established artist exhibiting locally and internationally, both independently and as one of the Amadlozi Group and a significant educator at Wits University’s Fine Art Department, had developed a confident style and iconography of abstracted forms based on perceptual reality. Travels in the UK and USA during the mid-60s on an Oppenheimer Grant had exposed her to the prevailing trends in abstraction. Inspired by Op artists such as Bridget Riley, she forged a unique style of intellectual abstraction infused with metaphysical ideas. In this powerful composition, birds are arrayed across the canvas in a serried row, forming a rhythmic pattern with a strong iconic quality. These are no naturalistic creatures, but rather imaginary birds. Their feet rise from plinths not unlike the magnificent heraldic birds of Great Zimbabwe, suggesting symbols of power, strength or freedom.Typically, Sash stripped her paintings of saturated colours to focus, as here, on muted greys and ochres accentuated with black and white. Set against a ground of intense, prevailing blue, the birds are encircled with pink ribbons, to which each responds uniquely. Her design sophistication was acknowledged in 1972 when the famous Aubusson Studio in France commissioned Sash to produces a design of birds for an edition of six tapestries.

Emma Bedford

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Auction: Aspire X PIASA | Modern & Contemporary African Art, 14th Feb, 2020

Aspire Art Auctions partnered with Paris-based house Piasa, to introduce an Africa-focused auction presenting some of the best examples of modern and contemporary art produced on this continent. This was the first time an African and European auction house partnered to present a sale of African art, in Africa, for a global audience. 

The sale included 139 artists representing 27 countries from Africa and the diaspora and spotlighted key collecting segments from 20th century modernism to contemporary production and photography. The lead-lot, Marlene Dumas’ Oktober 1973 achieved a stellar R7,055,600 well above its high estimate of R3-5 million. Also on offer were some of the most in-demand African artists including Chéri Samba, Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, Gareth Nyandoro, Mustafa Maluka and William Kentridge.

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