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Be Inspired by the Arts at Aspire

Aspire Art Auctions’ exclusive focus on top quality historic, modern and contemporary art reflects a deep commitment to sustaining the existing South African market, as well as expanding and developing new, emerging markets within the industry; an exciting variety of upcoming artworks for Aspire’s Inaugural Cape Auction reinforces this engagement with the arts.

Following the successes of 2016, where Aspire achieved the highest price for Alexis Preller and JH Pierneef, the highest sales price for a gouache painting by Irma Stern, and the highest price for a work in steel by Edoardo Villa, Aspire are delighted to be presenting more significant works of the 20th century. Led by a major JH Pierneef painting, A View across Fishermans Cove, Seychelles, produced while on a four-month holiday on the island, and a cloudy landscape entitled Vrystaat Reën, a dreamy respite in these waterless times. A seminal Edoardo Villa sculpture produced in the run up to one of his most famous sculptures, Africa, 1959, largely considered one of the most important sculptures in the country; Vertical composition, 1958, is as significant for his late ‘50s period as Homage to Maillol was for the ‘60s. An evening sky in Newlands by Pieter Wenning, with an impressive exhibition pedigree, adds to the momentous historic section of this diverse and top-quality collection.

JH Pierneef | A View across Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles | 1955 | oil on canvas | 76 x 91.5 cm | Courtesy of Nina Lieska, Repro Pictures

Depicting moments both provisional and cinematic, two early and rarely before seen, large-scale drawings by William Kentridge are sure highlights of the sale. In Room Service (1986), the distinctive eyes of the artist’s alter ego, Felix Teitelbaum, stare back at the viewer through a car’s rear view mirror. Ahead, a gold-detailed tryst unfolds amidst a merging of a private interior and public exterior. Grande Jeté (1987), purchased by the current owner from Kentridge’s 1987 Standard Bank Young Artist Award exhibition, focuses on the impressive leap of a ballerina, forever suspended mid-air.

As arts writer, Alexandra Dodd, states, set against a crowded and chaotic colosseum, ‘the dancer has used her body, her art, her imagination, to transcend the tawdry spectacle about her, and in so doing, to dramatically transform it.’

Edoardo Villa | Vertical composition | 1958 | painted steel on a steel base | sculpture: 133.5 x 50 x 45 cm | Courtesy of Nina Lieska, Repro Pictures

A rare, early black and white photograph by David Goldblatt, The Simons Old House in Magpie Str, Kensington from 1974, documents the home of the South African illustrator, playwright, author and co-founder of Johannesburg’s Market Theatre, Barney Simon, for whose book this photograph was also the cover illustration, Joburg, Sis!

JH Pierneef | Vrystaat Reën | 1943 | oil on canvas | 46 x 61.5 cm | Courtesy of Nina Lieska, Repro Pictures

In See-Line Woman dressed in Red, Makes her Man lose his Head (2012), Deborah Bell takes inspiration from the music she listens to whilst working in the studio, reimagining the woman from Nina Simone’s famous 1964 recording of the 19th century folk song, ‘See-Line Woman’. A musician himself, playing both the pennywhistle and the saxophone, Ephraim Ngatane’s exuberant Musicians is typical of his focus on the moments of everyday life around him. A number of artworks will be on offer by Cecil Skotnes, a mentor of Ngatane at the famous Polly Street Art Centre in the 1950s. As Dodd states of Skotnes’ Ravine Wall (1997), ‘landscape and mindscape intertwine’ in this carved, incised, and painted wood panel in rich earth tones.

Norman Catherine | Negotiator | 1990 | oil on canvas | 89.5 x 149 cm
Courtesy of Nina Lieska, Repro Pictures

Enchanted by theatre from a young age, the experimental Modernist, Christo Coetzee used abstract forms and an interplay of brilliant, primary colours in Prototype: Fire Curtain – a commission to design the fire curtain of the newly built state theatre in Pretoria in 1980. Writing on Norman Catherine’s electric Negotiator (1990), Hazel Friedman states that this powerful painting which so encompasses the artist’s ‘vast visual repertoire’ is ‘…awash with subtleties and subtexts, referencing mythology, psychology and the history of art.’ Battling the conventions of the early 20th century, and working with a host of ‘new’ media, Eleanor Esmonde-White established the Department of Design at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Nudes is a prime example of her select palette, her focus on women and the feeling of warmth with which she imbued her work.

William Kentridge | Grande Jeté | 1987 | charcoal and pastel on paper | 149 x 101.5 cm
Courtesy of Nina Lieska, Repro Pictures

Athi-Patra Ruga’s irreverent tapestry, Castrato as [the] Revolution (2010), ‘riffs off older traditions of portraiture – specifically the lush exoticism of Irma Stern’s paintings – but affords this ancestry a camp, more contemporary spin,’ according to arts writer, Anna Stielau. Chandelier captures a moment of Steven Cohen’s key performance, in which he teetered through the streets of Newtown, as it was dismantled by the ‘red ants’, in a lit chandelier and vertiginous heels.

Cecil Skotnes | Ravine Wall | 1999 | carved, incised and painted wood panel | 132 x 131 cm, including frame | Courtesy of Nina Lieska, Repro Pictures

Mohau Modisakeng, one of two artists to represent South Africa in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, performs stillness against a rich, jade green in the dramatic photograph, Diatola XV. Replete with a red cape, and the restructured cow-hide for which she is so well known, two different photographic works of Nandipha Mntambo’s imagined bullfight in an abandoned arena will be available, one of which was donated to help raise funds for the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, Cape Town, set to open later this year.

The recently released auction catalogue – with exceptional reproductions of each work and featuring enlightening texts by some of South Africa’s most esteemed academics, critics, and arts writers – further heightens the anticipation of the sale.

Inaugural Cape Town Auction 2017 | Avenue | V & A Waterfront | 40 Dock Road | Cape Town | 27 March 2017 |Day Sale 16:00 |Evening Sale 20:00

Auction preview | Friday 24 March | 10:00 to 17:00 | Saturday 25 March | 10:00 to 17:00 | Sunday 26 March | 10:00 to 16:00

Exhibition walkabouts | Saturday 25 March | Sunday 26 March | 11am

Cape Town

Emma Bedford | | +27 83 391 7235

Josephine Higgins | | +27 82 806 1030

Rafael Powell | | +27 72 138 7673


Jacqui Carney | | +27 71 675 2991

Mary-Jane Darroll | | +27 82 567 1925

Ruarc Peffers | | +27 84 444 8004

Read more about some of the artworks in our latest post: Pierneef in Paradise.

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