28th Oct, 2018 8:30

Historic, Modern and Contemporary Art

Lot 85
Lot 85 - Moshekwa Langa  (South Africa 1975-)


Moshekwa Langa (South Africa 1975-)
hand thrown distance

pen, pencil, acrylic, enalem and spray paint

Artwork date: 2000
Exhibited: Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Another Time, Another Place, 4 to 25 November 2000.

Sold for R170,700
Estimated at R250,000 - R350,000


pen, pencil, acrylic, enalem and spray paint

Artwork date: 2000
Exhibited: Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Another Time, Another Place, 4 to 25 November 2000.


140 x 100 cm


Moshekwa Langa’s artworks entered the South African art canon in the mid-nineties after the historic first democratic elections in 1994. Within the art establishment, Langa’s work is hailed as undeniably contemporary1, a radical break from the familiar stock of primitivist tropes. His ascendance is welcomed with relief; according to Clive Kellner, ‘Langa epitomizes everything that the establishment has been seeking: he is young, black, and a conceptually-based artist’2. Often described as mixed media, Langa’s oeuvre evades hard descriptive categories and his work hand thrown distance (2000) presents a strong case in point. To create this image, Langa uses a combination of everyday instruments such as pen, pencil, acrylic, enamel and spray paint to create a colourful euphony of blues, taupes and green hues. In hand thrown distance he handles his colours in a loose and poetic way. Thick lines curve and twist as if guided by the instinctive impulse suggested by the title of the artwork.

Further, the title, hand thrown distance alludes to a riddle, as we see it inscribed in a self-referential way above the sketchy ghost-like countenance that hovers on the left hand side. Painted in a layered and fragmented fashion; hand thrown distance echoes the recognisable traits of modern abstraction. However, this modern quality is immediately undermined by the layers of spray paint that suggest the fleeting freedom of graffiti, a testament to Langa’s connection to the urban. This painting marks during the year 2000, as part of Another Time, Another Place3, atthe Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.This was the artist’s first solo exhibition in South Africafollowing the completion of his studies at the esteemedRijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Hand thrown distance is a complex composition, layered with curious details that keep us second-guessing. It is an enigmatic piece that doesn’t give away its secrets. Unresolved, it keeps the viewer lurking at a close distance, close enough to turn back to it again and again. The power of this work lies in its inscrutable dimensions that demand something far deeper than just a thoughtful understanding. hand thrown distance is a spiritual experience.

Zama Nsele


1 Corrigall, M. (2011) ‘At the border post of Western art: the provisional ‘reaggregation’ of Moshekwa Langa’s art into the South African canon’. Image and Text (2011) (17), p.138–157.

2 Kellner, C. (1997). ‘Emerging voices/radiant child: Moshekwa Langa’. Atlantica (17), p.157–161.

3 Art Africa, SPRING 18 FOCUS: Contemporary African Art: Moshekwa Langa.[O] Available: https://artafricamagazine.org/spring-18-focus-contemporaryafrican- art-moshekwa-langa-collector/ Accessed 5 September 2018

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Auction: Historic, Modern and Contemporary Art, 28th Oct, 2018

Aspire Art Auctions brought a significant double-header of top lot leads to this sale.

Stellar results were achieved for internationally prominent William Kentridge and Alexis Preller, one of South Africa’s most respected and collectable modern artists. Collectors were attracted to Kentridge’s remarkable, Drawing from Stereoscope (Double page, Soho in two rooms) (1999), which sold for R6 600 400, while Preller’s Adam (1972), sold for a world record at R9 104 000. Modern offerings also included works by Peter Clarke, Kenneth Bakker, and Douglas Portway, while the contemporary segment included Moshekwa Langa, Penny Siopis, Simon Stone, Clive van den Berg, and Georgina Gratrix, amongst others.

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