Alexis Preller Gold Angel (Arete) 1970

Fresh from the remarkable successes of its recent Johannesburg auction in November 2017, Aspire Art Auctions is lining up another top roster of high-quality fine art in its upcoming Summer sale at The Avenue, the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on March 25.

A leading highlight of the sale is a rare and unusual intaglio work by revered South African modern artist Alexis Preller. Gold Angel (Arêté), from 1970, is executed in the artist’s innovative intaglio method: the image appears at a distance to be in high relief but is in fact produced as a negative, a concave form, cast in fiberglass resin. The cast is then meticulously painted to create the illusion of a convex rendering of the form. In the finished work, the eye is constantly challenged by an ambivalent reading of surface and image, making the work even more enigmatic and ungraspable.Another significant modern artist on the sale is Cape Town’s own Peter Clarke. Clarke’s work has been a great success in recent Aspire auctions, one fetching a world record price of R932 176 in Johannesburg in November. This is the highest ever price at auction for one of his gouache works. An early gouache and watercolour work goes on auction in Cape Town, Bathers from 1967. It is on the sale alongside an even earlier oil on paper still life by Clarke, Fruit Bowl from 1958.

Maggie Laubser needs no introduction to most serious buyers and collectors, and one of South Africa’s most significant modern painters has a beautiful still life on the Cape Town show. Still life with vase and sunflowers (1940) is a representative painting from the artist’s mature period when she had become something of an icon for a younger generation of contemporary SA artists, the so-called ‘New Group’.

Lastly, the upcoming show has a special focus on contemporary art, an area in which Aspire has consistently led the secondary auction market, and which forms a strategic focus area for the company.
One of the contemporary highlights at this auction is the tapestry work by Athi-Patra Ruga from 2013, Uzukile the elder. This arresting piece has newly arrived on consignment from the prestigious Foundation Louis Vuitton show in Paris entitled Being There, which featured new South African talent.

Mohau Modisakeng Untitled (Frame XVI) 2012

Another significant work on auction is by one of the most exciting contemporary artists in the country at the moment. Mohau Modisakeng’s star continues to rise. He is fresh from a highly successful solo show in Cape Town, and from a critically well-received exhibition as one of two SA artists at the SA Pavilion in Venice. The work on auction is from 2012’s Frames series, Untitled (Frame XVI).
Emma Bedford is Director, Senior Art Specialist and head of Aspire’s Cape Town office. She was also the Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at Iziko South African National Gallery, where she worked for 25 years. She comments: “We are very excited to bring such a considered and valuable range of work to the local market. Given that the record-breaking successes in our last sale ranged from the world-record price for a sculpture by modernist sculptor Sydney Kumalo to a South African record for a drawing by contemporary doyen William Kentridge, we can confidently assert that we are demonstrating our expertise in the art market across the board. We are especially looking forward to further solidifying our presence in the contemporary market with this sale.”

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