African Modern and Contemporary Art is currently one of the hottest properties in the art world. The desire for collectors to acquire these works grows every year, as does the interest from museums and opinion formers in the art world.
For centuries, African and European art had largely followed independent trajectories. However, by 1950 a handful of artists emerged who took their, mainly Western art training and applied it in distinctly African context.
These included the Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu (1917-1994) whose elegant bronze figure Anyanwu Simplified estimated at £60,000-90,000 is among the most highly valued items in the ‘Africa Now’ sale. His painting Africa Dances 1973 also estimated at £60,000-90,000 depicts an energetic dance that could serve as a metaphor for Africa itself.
UK-based Nigerian artist, Uzo Egonu (1931-1996), painted Second Poetess (£10,000-15,000) in 1981 as part of his Stateless People series that was exhibited in London at the Royal Festival Hall in 1986. A member of the ‘Commonwealth generation’, Egonu spent the majority of his career in exile in Britain, rising to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s.
The work of these two pioneering modernists and their compatriot Yusuf Grillo (born 1934) paved the way for contemporary artists such as the Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover (born 1934) whose use of colour and the textural qualities in his works, call to mind the brightly-coloured and textured Ghanaian fabrics and textiles.
Among the six paintings by Glover in the sale, A luta Demonstration from 2007 (£8,000-12,000) is perhaps the most striking. ‘A luta continua’, ‘the struggle continues’ in Portuguese, was the rallying cry of the FRELIMO movement during Mozambique’s war for independence. Made popular by the legendary South African songstress, Miriam Makeba in her song ‘A luta continua’ released during the anti-apartheid struggle, the phrase became the war cry for rallies across the continent.
All these paintings will be offered at auction at Bonhams London on 20 May 2015.