Modern and Contemporary African Art shines at auction in Paris.

Aspire Art Auctions presents a co-curated auction of Modern and Contemporary African Art in collaboration with French auction house Piasa, in Paris on 24 June. The debut of an African based auction house presenting a dedicated sale in Europe marks an industry first, and confirms Aspire as the emerging global champion for African art at auction.

William Kentridge, Drawing from Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (Soho Eating), 1989.

After the success of the Aspire X Piasa auction in Cape Town in February 2020, a follow-up sale in Paris has been planned with great anticipation. With the art market gradually re-opening in Europe to resume activities for the next quarter, indications are that Paris is set to resume the momentum it gained prior to the COVID-19 crisis. In 2019, France emerged as a new global art-market force with the country’s auction market growing a remarkable 49%. Paris is currently one of three leading cities for specialised sales of art from the African continent and a city where auction turnover from sales of modern and contemporary African art has almost quadrupled between 2017 and 2019.

This partnership is another strategic move for Aspire to promote the international value of and appreciation for art and artists from Africa and South Africa in particular. Since 2016, Aspire has altered the local auction market. While the company has actively pioneered new sectors within contemporary art at auction, it was also the first to committedly promote undervalued 20th century black artists, and the first to present a genuinely pan-African offering of modern and contemporary art to a global audience. The dedicated auction in Paris marks an important moment in the history and development of this segment in the global art market.

Aspire MD Ruarc Peffers comments: “It is our pleasure to collaborate with Piasa as we work together in growing and internationalising the market for modern and contemporary art from Africa. Our shared belief in the inherent quality, historical significance and value of African art supports our endeavours in working to build this market to levels comparable to its European and American counterparts.”

Showcasing an impressive collection of 173 artworks by 85 artists from 19 countries on the continent, the large scale auction spotlights the vitality and quality of art produced in the various major centres of West, East and Southern Africa.

Significant highlights include the striking painting J’aime la couleur (2004) by Chéri Samba which introduces the special selection dedicated to the early and current popular painters of the Congo with works by the iconic Chéri Chérin, Moké, and the younger JP Mika.

Chéri Samba, J’aime la couleur, 2004.

Internationally renowned William Kentridge’s important 1989 drawing from Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (Soho Eating) is the feature cover work for the sale. Produced during a critical time in South Africa’s history as the country was on the cusp of radical political and social change, this drawing complements The Crossing (1987), one of Peter Clarke’s most powerful and politically charged works. This will be the first time a work by this prominent South African artist comes to auction in mainland Europe.

Peter Clarke, The Crossing: Africa; Crossing the Atlantic; America (from the Fence series), 1987.

The sale boasts a strong contemporary offering of exceptional works by leading names from the continent like Yinka Shonibare (Britain-Nigeria), Nicholas Hlobo (South Africa), Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon), Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon), Omar Ba (Senegal), Mary Sibande (South Africa), Kendell Geers (South Africa) and Misheck Masamvu (Zimbabwe).

Nicholas Hlobo, Umfanekiso, 2012.


TOP: Barthélémy Toguo, Private Party, 2006. BOTTOM: Misheck Masamvu, Fountain, 2015. RIGHT: Omar Ba, This Way is Not Easy 2, 2011


LEFT: Kendell Geers, Les Fleurs du Mal 302, 2018 ​RIGHT: Mary Sibande, Her Majesty, Queen Sophie, 2010

Kudzanai Chiurai’s (Zimbabwe) mixed media work Untitled VIII (Auto and the Workers Movement), which is part of his Drawings and Paintings from the Radical Archive, makes a powerful statement. Works by rising stars include an impressive large scale painting by Eddy Kamuanga (DRC), two installation based paintings by Simphiwe Ndzube (South Africa) and Peter Ngugi’s (Kenya) colourful rendering of contemporary pop-culture in Africa.

LEFT: Kudzanai Chiurai, Untitled VIII (Auto and the Workers Movement), 2018. RIGHT: Eddy Kamuanga, Untitled, 2018

LEFT: Simphiwe Ndzube, Here gathers these who meet & dance their own, 2017 RIGHT: Peter Ngugi, Untitled, 2018

Exciting mixed media works that will attract interest are a Sanaa Gateja (Uganda) paper tapestry titled Twitter and the Ostrich, (2019), Dickens Otieno’s (Kenya) intriguing untitled wall-hanging of woven metal strips and the first ever appearance at auction of a textile work by the young and upcoming Siwa Mgoboza (South Africa).

Siwa Mgoboza, Bitch, You Betta Werk, 2017.

LEFT: Sanaa Gateja, Twitter and the Ostrich, 2019 RIGHT: Dickens Otieno, Untitled, 2020

Rare modern works from South Africa include JH Pierneef’s masterful depiction of the Golden Gate Highlands area, Irma Stern’s exquisite 1943 portrait of Dora Sowden, the eccentric music and arts critic for the Johannesburg-based progressive newspaper The Rand Daily Mail during the 1940s and 1950s, as well as an early bronze sculpture Figure with Drapery by Edoardo Villa.

TOP: Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef, Landscape near Golden Gate, 1955. BOTTOM: Irma Stern, Portrait of Dora Sowden, 1943. RIGHT: Edoardo Villa, Figure with Drapery (Revised edition), 1953, cast in c.2000.

The sale concludes with an impressive collection of photography including portraits by the late Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria) and activist photographer Zanele Muholi (South Africa) as well as a series of Malick Sidibé’s iconic images of youth culture in the 1960s and 70s in Mali’s capital city, Bamako. Gelatin silver prints by Rotimi Fani-Kayode (Nigeria-Britain) and two images from Mohau Modisakeng’s (South African) Passage video which was exhibited at the 57th Venice Biennale also feature.

LEFT: J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Mkpuk Eba, 1974. RIGHT: Zanele Muholi, Sasa, Bleecker, New York, 2016


LEFT: Malick Sidibé, Avec mes verres fumés, 1963. RIGHT: Malick Sidibé, Dancez le twist, 1965.

LEFT: Malick Sidibé, Avec mes verres fumés, 1963. RIGHT: Malick Sidibé, Dancez le twist, 1965.

Of major significance is a rare platinum print, seldom seen on the open market, by South Africa’s most lauded photographer David Goldblatt. The photograph; A miner waits on the bank to go underground, City Deep Gold Mine, 1996 forms part of Goldblatt’s celebrated On the Mines series, a remarkable body of work which provides insights into the lives and difficult conditions of miners whose labour has underwrote the South African economy and created extraordinary wealth. Two other highly sought-after photographs by Goldblatt are also on offer.

David Goldblatt, A miner waits on the bank to go underground, City Deep Gold Mine, 1996

View and download the fully illustrated catalogue of all the artworks on offer. Pre-auction estimates are listed in Euro.


Visit for further information on the auction’s terms and conditions, bidding registrations and to view the auction online.

Read and download the artwork and art market Infographics William Kentridge
(, Peter Clarke( and David Golblatt (

Modern and Contemporary African Art
co-curated with Piasa

24 June 2020 at 6:00 PM
118 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honoré 75008, Paris

Johannesburg: Jacqui Carney +27 71 675 2991 |
Cape Town: Marelize van Zyl +27 83 283 7427 |