15th Mar, 2023 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Lot 30
Lot 30 - Serge Alain Nitegeka (Rwanda 1983-)


Serge Alain Nitegeka (Rwanda 1983-)
Fragile Cargo II: Studio Study I

painted wood

Artwork date: 2012
Exhibited: Stevenson, Johannesburg, 'Black Lines', 1 March to 30 March 2012.
Literature: Perryer, S. (ed). (2012). Serge Alain Nitegeka. Black Subjects. Cape Town: Stevenson, illustrated in colour on p.67

Estimated at R350,000 - R500,000


painted wood

Artwork date: 2012
Exhibited: Stevenson, Johannesburg, 'Black Lines', 1 March to 30 March 2012.
Literature: Perryer, S. (ed). (2012). Serge Alain Nitegeka. Black Subjects. Cape Town: Stevenson, illustrated in colour on p.67


122.5 x 237 x 6.5 cm each; 245 x 237 x 6.5 cm combined


Private collection, Cape Town.

Stevenson, Johannesburg.


My work investigates the concept of liminality in the frame of forced migration. I study the in-between state and space in which some marginal individuals such as asylum seekers and refugees find themselves.
I am interested in the possibilities through which the human form can be stripped down and reduced into simple lines that articulate the relationship between movement and load.

Serge Nitegeka[1]

Evoking the neo-plastic abstract compositions of the 20th century avant-garde artists Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, both recognised as a core inspiration for Serge Nitegeka’s contemporary abstractions[2], his works, like Fragile Cargo II: Studio Study I (2012) appear as a formalist study of line, space and perspective. The colours are primary and flat, forms are hard-edged, and the painted surface intercut with exposed strips of chipboard or plywood. The overall construction is marked by the absence of a figure, red rectangular shapes and raw plywood visible beyond a structure composed of linear forms. Although the work does not contain a direct representation of a body, embodiment is implied.

Nitegeka’s paintings, according to writer Betina Malcomess, should “be read in relation to the artist's sculptural installations with wood. Here, Nitegeka's language draws on minimalism and abstraction to create complex, labyrinthine constructions of rectilinear beams that occupy gallery spaces [like the installation Obstacle 1, installed in Black Lines at Stevenson in Cape Town in 2012], transforming the viewer's movement into a complex journey.”[3]

Influenced by his early suffering as a refugee, “the journeys Nitegeka's work references are those of displacement, dislocation and forced migration, anchored in his own lived experience – the artist’s family fled war-torn Burundi and then Rwanda when he was a child.”[4] These installations present obstacles that promote physical participation in this metaphoric experience.

Fragile Cargo II: Studio Study I, can be interpreted as a study for an installation or a work that positions the viewer outside of an abstracted field of vision which they cannot easily enter – “each line a border that radically dislocates our viewing, a metaphor for the precarity that haunts the work's minimalist beauty.”[5]

This work is impressive in scale, and its compositional structure is highly sophisticated and complex. Nitegeka's acute, formal aesthetic sense places him within the rich art historical cadre of minimalism and abstraction, while the larger concepts he tackles resonates with current global politics.

Text by Marelize van Zyl


  1. Piet Mondrian, Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930. Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland.
  2. Kazimir Malevich, Supremus No.50, 1915. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


  1. Obstacle I, 2012. Installation. Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town. Image courtesy: Stevenson.
  2. Installation View: Fragile Cargo II: Studio Study I in Black Lines, Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, 2012. Image courtesy: Stevenson.

[1] Stevenson [online]. Available at: http://archive.stevenson.info/exhibitions/nitegeka/index2012.html

[2] Jamal, A. (2015). Realism in Abstract. Financial Times, 15 – 21 October 2015, p.55

[3] Malcomess, B. (2022). Serge Alain Nitegeka: Obstacle 1; Studio study III in Aspire Art, The Present Future: A Private Collection of African & International Contemporary Art (auction catalogue), Johannesburg, 22 June 2022. p.24

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.


Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Stevenson.

In 2021 the artist was included in the exhibition Ubuntu, A Lucid Dream at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France.


The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, the Rubell Museum, Florida; the University of Cape Town; Norval Foundation, Cape Town and Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town.

You can place an absentee bid through our website - please sign in to your account on our website to proceed.

In the My Account tab you can also enter telephone bids, or email bids@aspireart.net to log telephone/absentee bids.

Join us on the day of the auction to follow and bid in real-time.

The auction will be live-streamed with an audio-visual feed.

Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 15th Mar, 2023


Kickstarting the 2023 program Aspire Art are delighted to present their first Live sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art in March. The sale has become a highly anticipated event in the Cape Town auction calendar, showcasing and recognising works by truly exceptional artists from Southern Africa.

Contemporary highlights include seminal works by William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Sue Williamson, Johannes Phokela, Zander Blom, Athi-Patra Ruga, Dan Halter and Georgina Gratrix amongst others. International superstars include Pascale Marthine Tayou and Francisco Vidal.  Photographic works feature prominently as a special section and include limited editioned prints by celebrated documentary photographers Alf Kumalo and David Goldblatt alongside incredible photographic works by artists like Mary Sibande, Ayana Jackson, Candice Breitz and the award-winning Mikhael Subotzky.

Leading the sale is a group of important and rare works by South African modern masters, most significantly a selection of expressive drawings by Dumile Feni and paintings by social realist George Pemba. The modern collection is complimented by a landscape painted by J.H. Pierneef and a beautifully rendered gouache by Irma Stern from 1951.


Preview: 10 to15 March

Mon-Fri: 8.30-4.30, Saturday: 10-2 or by appointment


View all lots in this sale

Images *

Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.





While we endeavour to assist our Clients as much as possible, we require artwork(s) to be delivered and/or collected from our premises by the Client. In instances where a Client is unable to deliver or collect artwork(s), Aspire staff is available to assist in this process by outsourcing the services to one of our preferred Service Providers. The cost for this will be for the Client’s account, with an additional Handling Fee of 15% charged on top of the Service Provider’s invoice.

Aspire Art provides inter-company transfer services for its Clients between Johannesburg and Cape Town branches. These are based on the size of the artwork(s), and charged as follows:

Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R480

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R960

Large (≤120x150x20 cm): R1,440

Over-size: Special quote


Should artwork(s) be collected or delivered to/from Clients by Aspire Art directly, the following charges will apply:

Collection/delivery ≤20km: R400

Collection/delivery 20km>R800≤50km

Collection/delivery >50km: Special quote



A flat fee of R100 will be added to the invoice for packaging of unframed works on paper.


International Collectors Shipping Package

For collectors based outside South Africa who purchase regularly from Aspire Art’s auctions in South Africa, it does not make sense to ship artworks individually or per auction and pay shipping every time you buy another work. Consequently, we have developed a special collectors’ shipping package to assist in reducing shipping costs and the constant demands of logistics arrangements.

For buyers from outside South Africa, we will keep the artworks you have purchased in storage during the year and then ship all the works you have acquired during the year together, so the shipping costs are reduced. At the end of the annual period, we will source various quotes to get you the best price, and ship all your artworks to your desired address at once.

Aspire Art will arrange suitable storage during, and cost-effective shipping at the end, of the annual period.



Collections are by appointment, with 24-hours’ notice

Clients are requested to contact the relevant office and inform Aspire Art of which artwork(s) they would like to collect, and allow a 24-hour window for Aspire Art’s logistics department to retrieve the artwork(s) and prepare them for collection.


Handling Fee

Aspire Art charges a 15% Handling Fee on all Logistics, Framing, Restoration and Conservation arranged by Aspire.