The first ever contemporary art auction

By Hlengiwe Vilakati

For a lawyer, the ultimate dream is to become partner, or perhaps an Oscar for the international actor. But if you are an artist, it is to have your artwork placed at a museum or better, watch a crowd of astute collectors battle over your artwork at a major auction house. Such is the story of contemporary artist Ayanda Mabulu’s professional career. Two of his artworks, Black Poetry (2011) and Marikana Widows(2012) are consigned to go on auction at Strauss. Strauss and Co is South Africa’s biggest fine art auctioneer and this is their very first auction dedicated to contemporary art only, marking Ayanda’s first auction inclusion in South Africa.

Major auction houses like Strauss almost only exclusively accept art by artists with established records, or in exceptional cases, artists who are hot at that moment. Born and raised in King Williams Town, Ayanda first achieved fame when his political painting depicting a naked President Jacob Zuma caught the media’s attention back in 2010. Since then he has become synonymously known for creating large artworks that feature three of his most famous motifs: educate, provoke and rife with African history. Though his stories are usually intense, they are without doubt a current reflection of South Africa’s political landscape.

“I am very excited at the opportunity to contribute to the growth of Ayanda’s professional career, as well as the gallery’s. The consignment of Ayanda’s work is good news because we believe this will add value to his portfolio, and hopefully, attract more private and international buyers. So we encourage clients to sign up for the auction for an opportunity to bid. Everyone gets to be part of the African story”, concludes Hlengiwe

This beauty right here, Marikana Widows is a powerful and moving honour to the widows of Marikana, a domestic massacre that still plagues South Africa. By using collage, Ayanda has made reference to artist William Kenridge’s mining head gear in but also Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, an anti-war painting completed in 1937. Driven by the same motif as in Picasso’s Guernica, the sun with the light bulb also takes centre stage in Marikana Widows, which is a symbolic comment against violence in African communities.

Black Poetry is simply magnificent. Its a beautiful narrative of how lively black culture is; there’s humour, darkness and education.

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