• Contemporary auction taking place in Cape town’s most vibrant period in South Africa’s art calendar

  • Includes two artists that have collaborated with French luxury brands: Nicholas Hlobo and Athi-Patra Ruga

  • Very important work by Nicholas Hlobo, the cover lot

  • Growth of the auction beyond being just a South African focused contemporary auction – it features a pan African selection of work

(Left) Highly important drawing by William Kentridge of a landscape in the Marikana area where 34 miners were killed by police in 2012



Cape Town, with its diverse and sophisticated ecosystem of galleries, museums, institutions and events, has over the last few years established itself as a global art capital. Launched three years ago at the V&A Waterfront, Strauss & Co’s contemporary art sale is an important addition to this vibrant network of opportunity for artists and collectors.


Held annually during the blissful summer month of February and timed to coincide with the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, the third instalment of Strauss & Co’s specialist sale in a portside warehouse at the V&A Waterfront includes a noteworthy consignment of contemporary African art from a single collection.


The 22 lots were acquired over the past decade, a period of global emergence for contemporary African art, and map the many ways in which artists from the continent are currently expressing themselves.

The lots include vivid photographs by two of the continent’s most celebrated portraitists, Omar Victor Diop (Senegal) and Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco). Painting is also strongly represented, with works by Cyril Omamogho (Nigeria), Meriem Bouderbala (Tunisia), Redouane Ouarzaz (Morocca) and George Lilanga (Tanzania) forming part of the consignment. A sculptor turned celebrated painter, Lilanga’s expressionist figuration adapted motifs used by Makonde woodcarvers from East Africa and is now widely mimicked, a sure sign of his influence and renown.

 “I think this single-owner collection demonstrates a mature cross section of contemporary artists from the African continent and its diaspora,” says Matthew Partridge, a contemporary art specialist at Strauss & Co. “The consignment features emerging artists such as Redouane Ouarzaz, who is still in his 20s but comes from a deep tradition of Moroccan painting, to the likes of William Kentridge and British photographer David Bailey who regularly show at international fairs.”


William Kentridge’s highly important drawing, Small Koppie 2 (estimate R1.5 – 2 million), depicts the low hill where miners gathered during a 2012 strike at the Marikana platinum mine. Kentridge – whose career achievements are currently the subject of two museum exhibitions in Cape Town, at Norval Foundation and Zeitz MOCAA – visited the site following the death of 34 protesting miners at the hands of police.

Bailey’s 1985 portrait of singer Mick Jagger (estimate R100 000 – 150 000) forms part of a selection of works by American, British and Chinese artists in this single-owner collection.

Feng Zhengjie’s enamel painted bronze portrait (estimate R900 000 – 1 200 000) is a sculptural interpretation of this highly regarded Chinese painter’s renderings of seemingly empty-eyedwomen rendered in a pop palette.

“This perspective, which combines the old and new across a diverse range of media, reveals a pattern of collecting that isn’t bound by a regional favouritisms, but rather places contemporary art from the African continent in a global context,” says Matthew Partridge of the ambitious scope of the collection. The consignment also includes large works by notable South African sculptors Deborah Bell, Wim Botha and Marco Cianfanelli.

“Interest in art from the African continent continues to grow, especially as artists inventively assert themselves using unconventional media and approaches,” says joint managing director of Strauss & Co Bina Genovese. “Strauss & Co is of the view that it is important to support and nurture these new practices – and not just at auction. We have long been a supporter of the Cassirer Welz Award, an early career art prize, and are a proud sponsor of the new Stellenbosch Triennale, an artist-focussed event that aims to grow the audience for audacious new practices from the African continent.”


Other noteworthy highlights from the Strauss & Co’s forthcoming contemporary art sale include Athi-Patra Ruga’s wool and thread on tapestry canvas Touched by an Angel (estimate R700 000 – 900 000) and Nicholas Hlobo’s embroidered ribbon assemblage piece Umphokoqo (estimate R400 000 – 600 000).


It is the first time a work by Hlobo will appear on the secondary market in South Africa. Interest in Ruga’s tapestries is also high following the world-record price of R477 960 paid at a Strauss & Co sale in May 2019. Of note, Hlobo and Ruga have both participated in high-profile collaborations with French luxury goods brands in the past year.


Strauss & Co’s contemporary art sale takes place at 6pm on Saturday, 15 February 2020. Lots can be previewed daily from Thursday 13 February until the start of the sale at Quay 7 Warehouse in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Further details available here: www.straussart.co.za



Julian Roup of Bendigo Communications

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Bina Genovese  [email protected]