ON July 27, in New York, Bonhams auction of Modern & Contemporary Art & Photography from Africa and the Diaspora will feature "exceptional" pieces, including a painting by Nigerian artist, Oluwole Omofemi.
The auction, according to Bonhams also features a large selection of exceptional photography including a striking black-and-white image, Isililo XX, by Zanele Muholi (b. 1972), estimated at $7,000 – 10,000. A 'visual activist' known for their photographic work which documents the lives of LGBTQIA+ people living in South Africa, the offered work is from a series of self-portraits in which Muholi assumes unique personas. In this image, the title of which translates to 'weeping' or 'lamenting', Muholi works with the complex nature of self-representation, concealing much of their face with a knit fabric that has been tightly wrapped around their neck.
Omofemi (b. 1988), is known for painting exaggerated afro-hairstyles for his subjects and is quoted saying “I use hair as a metaphor for freedom”. A political symbol championed by the Black Power and civil rights movements across Africa and its diaspora, Omofemi captures the hairstyle in his portraiture that is often set in domestic interiors, such as Girl with Teacup, a painting included in the upcoming auction and estimated at $40,000 – 60,000.
Further photography highlights include Bamako (two females holding hands) by Seydou Keïta (1921-2001), a self-taught Malian photographer who instinctually created technically skillful and aesthetically dynamic images. This work presents two women dressed in matching m'boubous patterned with ostriches and arranged with their arms and hands in an intimate position to convey their close interpersonal relationship as co-wives. It is estimated at $7,000 – 10,000. One of the most celebrated African photographers of the twentieth century, Malick Sidibe’s (1935-2016) exuberant black-and-white images convey the individuality of his subjects in each shot. Un yéyé en position, a studio photograph estimated at $4,000 – 6,000, captures a young man nonchalantly posed and exuding an effortlessly cool aesthetic.
The sale will also feature four works from contemporary artist Abdoulaye Diarrassouba (b. 1983), widely known as Aboudia. Gaining substantial critical acclaim in the last decade, Aboudia was first introduced at auction by Bonhams in 2013 and has since had significant results over the years, most recently at Bonhams Paris in May. From Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, Aboudia is known for his dynamic paintings chronicling life and political unrest on the streets of Adibjan, the country’s major urban center. All four of the works featured in the sale are iconic examples of Aboudia’s work, featuring crowds of child-like figures fighting to be the focus of the painting, with estimates starting at $60,000 going up to $150,000. One in particular, Untitled (2018), is significant in scale, spanning 116 inches and is estimated at $100,000 – 150,000.
"We are pleased to present New York with the exceptional selection of artists from across Africa and its diaspora such as Aboudia, who Bonhams has long championed, as well as Malick Sidibe, and Zanele Muholi,” said Helene Love-Allotey, Bonhams Head of Sale for Modern and Contemporary African Art. “I’m particularly excited to expand our offerings for the first time to include a section on African Photography, and also encompass artists from the US and Caribbean, like Guyanese artist Aubrey Williams, who identify with the African diaspora.”
Other sale highlights include:
Three works from Guyanese artist Aubrey Williams (1926-1990) a key figure in global modernism during the second half of the twentieth century. A highlight of the works is Carib Ritual (6), a large-scale painting with a lively palette and curvilinear lines which convey the dynamic nature of the titular ritual. It is estimated at $12,000 - 18,000.
Painted in 1962 during a significant decade in his artistic development, Untitled by Alexander Skunder Boghossian (1937-2003) references both African and European modernist tropes. Estimated at $40,000 – 60,000, Boghossian, who was born in Ethiopia and later emigrated to France, utilizes a visual language which he described as an 'Afro-Metaphysics', creating swirling cosmic imagery and amorphous primordial forms.