First British Auction Of Contemporary African Art At Bonhams

. March 31, 2009


Such is the growing interest in modern and contemporary African painting that Bonhams has organised a first ever sale on 8th April of Contemporary African Art featuring artists from at least six African countries.

african-art.jpgA key work in this sale sums up the reason why Bonhams has taken this dramatic decision. Giles Peppiatt, Head of African Art at Bonhams says: “This particular work by the young female Nigerian artist Nnenna Okore (born 1975) titled Ashoebi II 2008 is a bridge between Africa’s ritual art tradition and a modern contemporary sensibility. It is proof that today Africa is in the forefront of the most exiting developments in contemporary art.”

This beautiful work of art, lot 92, is made of clay and burlap in three pieces. It is estimated to sell for £22,000-32,000. It has been exhibited in London’s October Gallery, ‘Nnenna Okore: Ulukububa – Infinite Flow’, 17 October – 6 December 2008.

A former student of El Anatsui, Nnenna Okore’s art is similarly inspired by the use of discarded and found objects in rural areas of her native Nigeria. Her work often employs ordinary media like magazines and newspaper, which are disposed of in her current home the United States, but are considered usable commodities in her native Nigeria. By re-imagining everyday waste, as well as natural materials, Nnenna’s works consistently challenges environmental neglect, consumerism and globalisation. Her work, by virtue of these influences, celebrates the transformation of discarded materials into cultural objects, forms, and spaces and brings a critical focus to bear on the consumption and recycling cultures in parts of Nigeria.

Her materials include newspapers, wax, cloth, rope, clay and sticks and she applies various repetitive and labour-intensive techniques, like weaving, twisting, sewing, dyeing, waxing and rolling, which were learned by watching villagers perform everyday tasks. These processes accentuate colours, textures and other visceral qualities of her sculptures. This revitalisation, rehabilitation, and transformation of materials, makes Nnenna one of her generation’s most exciting and innovative artists working within the genre of urban recyclia.

Among the other notable works in this sale will be three works by Enwonwu, another powerful Nigerian artist.

Giles Peppiatt said that the works of this artist and other contemporary African artists are being bought by Europeans, Americans and South Africans. Among these buyers is one South African collector who has found the increasing price rises of South African art has forced him to start collecting Nigerian artists. Sales of South African Art are held twice a year at Bonhams and achieve world record prices.

Category: Auction News

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