Tuesday, 10 March 2020

7th Art Auction sells million shilling artworks

                                                                    Just the two of us by Geoffrey Mukasa

By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 11 March 2020)

Nearly three-quarters of the artworks sold under the auctioneer’s hammer at the 7th art auction east Africa that garnered KSh22.5 in sales.
The amount was slightly less than last year when an unprecedented bidding war between two telephone callers resulted in one original E.S. Tingatinga painting selling for more than Sh6 million and thus jacking up last year’s total sales. This year, Tingatinga’s paintings didn’t sell for as much as last year’s lot. However, they still sold well: ‘Beautiful bird in tree’ went for Sh1,291,400 while his charming ‘Woman Washing Laundry by the Lake’ sold for Sh821,800
There were several other artworks this year that sold for over a million shillings. The highest sale was Yony Waite’s ‘Beyond Lukenya Mountains’ which went for Sh1,350,100. Then came Tingatinga’s ‘Untitled’ (Beautiful Bird in Tree) that went for Sh1,291,400. Then Peterson Kamwathi’s ‘Untitled Study’ for Sh1,232, and Geoffrey Mukasa’s ‘Portrait of a Blond Girl’ which went for Sh1,012,380. His other two paintings went for Sh986,160 and Sh563,520.
                                                                     E.S. Tingatinga's Women doing laundry by the Lake

Despite embassy alerts about an imminent terrorist attack, the pervasive jitters over the coronavirus and the hectic Friday night traffic, the 7th Art Auction East Africa did very well.
“I got a number of calls before the auction from people explaining why they wouldn’t make it this year,” said Art Auction curator Danda Jaroljmek.
“I was told they were taking seriously the embassy alerts about Al Shaabab preparing to attack one of Nairobi’s tourist hotels,” she added. Nonetheless, in spite of a few less bidders arriving at the Radisson Blu Hotel for this year’s Art Auction, she noted there were more telephone bidders this year than in the past.
The Art Auction featured more artworks than in previous years. In total, 70 lots from seven East African countries were on display both at the Hotel last Friday night, March 6th. They were also at Circle Art Gallery the week before so that prospective buyers could have a good look at the artworks, which included more sculptures than ever before.
                                                                                   Robert Saidi's Girl Musing

It’s Circle Art’s founder and curator Danda who also established the Contemporary and Modern East African Art Auction in 2013. It was she who assembled artworks from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania as well as Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Congo. The auction represented both a primary and secondary market with works coming directly from the artists as well as from owners of art who brought their works to Circle Art for Danda to decide if they could be included in the auction.
Of the sculptures, it was George Kyeyune’s ‘Contemplation’ that sold for Sh862,890. After him came Kioko Mwitiki’s life-size ‘Racehorse’ which went for Sh500,000. Donald Wasswa’s wood and copper ‘Agaba’ sold for Sh387,420, George Lilanga’s ‘Untitled’ (Jembe), Sh190,000 and Peter Kenyanya’s red granite ‘Armoured Warrior’ went for Sh164,360.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese painter, Salah Elmur’s ‘Haras Ros’ sold for Sh868,760 while Congolese painter Robert Saidi’s lovely ‘Girl Musing’ went for Sh610,480. Saidi’s fellow Congolese artist Houston Maludi’s ‘Kinshasa Street Scene’ sold for Sh563,520 as did the painting ‘Sleeping Bathers in the River of the past’ by the South African artist who launched his arts career in exile in Nairobi, Charles Sekano.
                                                                          Million shilling ES Tingatinga

There were other Ugandan artists besides Mukasa who did well at the auction, including Eli Kyeyune whose Untitled ‘Lady in Red’ sold for Sh598,740 and Romano Lutwana whose ‘The Kiss’ went for Sh516,560. And of the Egyptians, Nazir Tanbouli’s ’Visitation’ sold for Sh434,380 while Soaud Abdel Rassoud’s “I am not alone’ sold for Sh328,720.
Finally, among Kenyan artists, it wasn’t only Kamwathi and Yony Waite’s artworks that did well this year. For instance, Paul Onditi’s ‘Red Light II’ sold for Sh739,630 while Sane Wadu’s ‘When God met man’ went for Sh528,300. Richard Onyango’s ‘Pool Leaning series IV’ sold for Sh493,080, Ancent Soi’s ‘Blue Beasts’ went for Sh446,120, Richard Kimathi’s ‘The Lover’ for Sh375,680, Kaloki Nyamai’s ‘Kana Ka Musyemi’ went for Sh387,420, Tabitha wa Thuku’s ‘Blooming’ went for Sh352,200 while Onyis Martin’s ‘Recollections’ went for Sh328, 720 and Emily Odongo’s ‘Ascension’ sold for Sh305,240.
There were several more Kenyans whose artworks sold at the Auction, including Rosemary Karuga, Boniface Maina, Kamal Shah, Annabel Wanjiku and Peter Elungat among others.
But whether an artwork sold for a million or less than 100,000 (as did one work on paper by Ahmed Abushariaa), it was still a feather in every artist’s cap who took part in this year’s Art Auction East Africa.
                                                                       Yony Waite's Beyond Lukenya Mountains

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