Aspire leads auction calendar with Unsurpassed Offering

Aspire leads auction calendar with Unsurpassed Offering

Modern and Contemporary Live Auction in Cape Town

02/03/2022     General News, Live Auctions, Announcements

Aspire Art will impress collectors in their first Contemporary & Modern Art Auction will of 2022 in Cape Town on the 16th of March.

The collection of 111 works by 74 artists boasts a selection of highly collectable art historical treasures. Rare and important pieces by artists including William Kentridge, Marlene Dumas and Robert Hodgins presents collectors with a unique opportunity to add truly significant pieces to their collections. Aspire is deeply committed to promoting art from the African continent and included on the auction are renowned artists from Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and the DRC and of course South Africa.


Kentridge collectors are spoilt for choice


William Kentridge, Drawing from Mine


Headlining the sale is an intensely expressive charcoal drawing by William Kentridge. Drawing from Mine is one of 18 drawings produced as a still for the artist’s 1991 animated film Mine. The important film is the third in a series of short stop-motion films titled Drawings for Projection and is included in numerous world-renowned collections including the Tate in London and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. The significance of this particular drawing is that it introduces the claustrophobic ‘nether world’ – the concealed and isolated sleeping bunker – of the mineworkers (as opposed to mining magnate Soho's ‘upper world’ of comfort and luxury) early on in the film. Thus, setting the stage for the stark juxtaposing of two different socio-economic realities in this fiercely political work.

Early drawings from Kentridge’s films, like this one, are extremely scarce, highly sought-after, and rarely become available to the market. Drawing from Mine is expected to excite much interest given that Aspire Art Auctions has a long and impressive history in selling top works by this important artist. Notably, Aspire captured the South African auction record for a work from the same film, Drawing from Mine (Soho with Coffee Plunger and Cup), which sold for  R5,456,640 in 2017. The following year, in 2018, Aspire broke the world record for the artist achieving R6,600,400 for Drawing from Stereoscope (Double page, Soho in two rooms).


William Kentridge, Man, Woman and Warthog


Kentridge collectors are, however, spoilt for choice with a wonderful selection of Kentridge works across different media. Untitled (Man, Woman and Warthog) is an early drawing from 1985. The artist expertly portrays a nude man, a woman and a warthog. These three fragmented and seemingly unrelated images have in fact been used repeatedly by the artist and are significant motifs in his oeuvre.

Also on offer is Receiver, an artist’s book featuring poems by Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska and images by William Kentridge. Comprising 22 etchings, drypoints and photogravures the work investigates what it means to be human through a complex stratigraphy of image and text. Lastly, Aspire brings three fantastic Kentridge prints to market, Four Figures, Braz Cubas (Sculptures) and Braz Cubas (Head and Stone).


Magnificent paintings by Marlene Dumas and Robert Hodgins



Robert Hodgins, A Green Girl


Robert Hodgins’ painting, A Green Girl references Ophelia the young noblewoman from Shakespeare's literature drama Hamlet. Hodgins, one of South Africa’s most highly regarded artists, painted the magnificent oil on canvas in 1989/9. It is an exceptional large-scale work – the figure masterfully captured in eclectic greens in Hodgins’ signature expressive style contrasting with a geometric construction of flat planes of pink on the young girl’s face.



Marlene Dumas, Kindvrou


Another exceptional painting is Marlene Dumas’ Kindvrou. A world-renowned artist, Dumas’ works are highly sought-after and rarely come up at auction. Painted in the mid-1970s Kindvrou is an early work depicting a girl clothed in a short, frilled white top, suggesting purity and innocence, and underscoring her youth. Dumas suggests that she is a young girl on the threshold of becoming an adult in a complex world. It is an extraordinary work which, in its painterly treatment and in the intensity of its subject is, in many ways, comparable to Irma Stern’s much-celebrated The Eternal Child in the collection of The Rupert Art Foundation.


Art historical treasures


Louis Maqhubela, The Fallen Kings


Rare art historical Marlene Dumas is the thinking collector’s artist – a great painter, bringing her knowledge of art, philosophy and photography to bear on her works. Aspire takes pride in presenting serious collectors with important pieces and a number of significant historical treasures are on offer. Louis Maqhubela’s The Fallen Kings, in conté crayon, is a politically poignant work representing the Rivonia trial group. A rare example of a short phase in Maqhubela’s oeuvre from the 1960s, the work was exhibited alongside Exiled King at the Piccadilly Gallery, London in 1965. Notably, Exiled King was sold by Aspire Art in the company's inaugural Cape Town auction in March 2017. Achieving R341 400 – this remains a world record at auction for the artist.

Fanlo Mkhize’s BUTISI TART? is a fantastic and whimsical work speaking to an incredibly important art historical moment. The work was commissioned in 1995 for the first  Johannesburg Biennale, Africus. A momentous occasion it marked South Africa’s re-entry into the international art world after the first democratic elections in 1994. BUTISI TART? was used prominently on the catalogue cover and became the unofficial logo of the biennale.

Cinga Samson’s Untitled (Stormy Sky) is another highly collectable work. An early painting it clearly illustrates the artist’s exceptional skill. Currently, one of the most sought-after South African artists Sampson signed with White Cube gallery in 2021 and in October of the same year set a ground-breaking auction record in London with the painting Lift Off selling for GBP321 300.


Championing art from Africa


Misheck Masamvu, Bottoms Up


Aspire further prides itself in growing the market for African art. Over the past 18 months Aspire has brought 50 new African artists to auction and set 60 new African records. Staying true to this goal, over 20% of the works on the March sale are from African countries – outside of South Africa.

Of particular interest are Zimbabwean artists Misheck Masamvu’s monumental painting Bottoms Up and Moffat Takadiwa’s Mr Consumer 2 – a marvelous sculptural form constructed using refuse materials and litter from disposals around Harare. Also on offer are paintings by Zimbabwean Adolf Tega and Tanzanian, George Lilanga and a collage by Ugandan, Adrian Migadde. Nigeria is represented with Williams Chechet and Joseph Eze and the Ivory Coast with Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Armand Boua and Médéric Turay. Lastly there is a generous representation of important contemporary artists from the DRC; Zemba Luzamba, Pilipili Mulongoy, Roger Botembe Mimbayi, Monsengwo Kejwamfi (Moké) Joseph and (Cheri Cherin) Kinkonda.


Photography – Aspire introduces Ayana Jackson and Paul Kodjo to auction in South Africa


Ayana Jackson, Destruction


African photography is also well-represented. Of particular interest are two photographers whose works Aspire is debuting at auction in South Africa. A large-scale, bold and political work Destruction from contemporary photographer, Ayana Jackson’s Poverty Porn series and two black and white images – celebrating care-free moments of post-colonial joy ­– from the 1970s (printed in 2019) by documentary photographer Paul Kodjo, often referred to as the ‘father of Ivorian photography’. Also on offer is a Limited edition Particulars book by renowned South African photographer David Goldblatt and a wonderful portrait of Archbishop Desmond Tutu by Jac de Villier, as well as works by established contemporary photographers Zanele Muholi and Guy Tillim.


Modern African Masters


George Pemba, The Quarrel


Contemporary African art is undoubtedly well-represented but lovers of modern works from Africa also have much to look forward to. Notably, 4 fantastic oil paintings by South African George Pemba. Pemba is a much-loved painter from the Eastern Cape whose demand has been increasing and who shone on Aspire’s recent sales. Indeed, Managing Director Ruarc Peffers speculates that his status will become comparable to Gerard Sekoto’s. Other modern treasures include a fantastic gouache, Embrace by Peter Clarke, two sensitive portraits by Neville Lewis and works by François Krige, Eleanor Esmonde-White, Maud Sumner, Gregoire Boonzaier, Cecil Skotnes and Walter Battiss.


Sculpture from the Amadlozi and Capetonian favourites Bruce Arnott and David Brown



Sydney Kumalo, Mother and Child


Sculpture is a prominent and powerful medium in local art and the auction focuses on a unique and impressive body of sculptural works led by Sydney Kumalo and Edoardo Villa – important members of the seminal Amadlozi group from the 1960s. Kumolo is represented with 3 works notably Mother and Child, a large bronze conceived in 1971 when the artist was at the height of his artistic powers, while Villa’s Abstract Form is a unique geometric bronze made at an important time when Villa was pushing the boundaries of his production and experimenting with unconventional materials – like discarded polystyrene packaging. Capetonians will also be delighted to view works by much-loved local sculptors Bruce Arnott and David Brown.



The live auction will take place from Aspire’s exquisite gallery space at 37A Somerset Road in De Waterkant on Wednesday 16 Match 2022.

Buyers are invited to join for in-room bidding or make use of telephone or Aspire’s real-time online bidding platforms. 


The preview exhibition will be on display in the gallery from Friday 11 March and can be viewed from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.