Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Bonhams Contemporary African Art Sale

Africa Now | Contemporary Africa

15 Oct 2015, starting at 14:00 BST.

Recommendations for what to buy at the African Art Sale at Bonhams in October 2015

Video of the Tunisian Artist | Abderrazak Sahli

Firstly, these works are highly undervalued by the late Abderrazak Sahli and are certainly worth considering.


Abderrazak Sahli (Tunisian, 1941-2009)
Abstract I & II
each signed 'Sahli' (lower right)
oil on hessian laid to board
each 30 x 31cm x 12 3/16 in).(2)



  • Of Arabic ancestry, Abderrazak Sahli spent the majority of his life travelling between France and Tunisia. He embarked on a career in the visual arts in the 1960s, prompted by his friend and mentor Nejib Belkhodja, founder of the Tunis School of Art.

    Sahli's abstract paintings are inspired by the decorative patterns and design elements of North Africa's architecture. However, they also draw upon the Abstract Expressionist and Russian Suprematist art that he encountered in Paris.
    The artist strips back his subjects to their bare essentials of shape, colour and form. He described his work thus:

    "My painting is principally based on a multitude of objects and forms; it translates diversity. The clutter of objects in my canvases is nothing but a representation of the crowd, the dense crowd that is force and movement."
Lot 26
Abderrazak Sahli
(Tunisian, 1941-2009)
Abstract I & II (2)
£3,000 - 5,000
€4,100 - 6,800

and this work by Jane Alexander from South Africa.


Jane is one of the leading artists in South Africa and a dominant figure within the world of Contemporary African Art and the Art World in general.

Jane Alexander (South African, born 1959)
'Harbinger in correctional uniform, lost march'
inscribed with title, numbered 49/60, dated '2007' and signed (verso)
pigment inks on archival cotton rag paper
46 x 56cm (18 1/8 x 22 1/16in).(image size)



  • Born in Johannesburg, Jane Alexander works primarily in sculpture, installation and photomontage. Her figures are characterised by ambiguity; neither one thing nor the other, they are in a constant state of mutation. Her best-known work, Butcher Boys in the collection of the South African National Gallery, tackles the history of apartheid and the politics of so called 'integration'. The boys' features are an amalgamation of the human and bestial. The sculpture is an uncomfortable reminder of our tendencies towards violence and oppression.

    The figure of the 'Harbinger' is a recurring motif within Alexander's oeuvre. The harbinger is a messenger, a portent of things to come. He is monstrous and grotesque, but simultaneously fascinating. Our fears for the future are balanced by an equally powerful curiosity. An edition of the current photomontage was part of Alexander's exhibition Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope), organised by the Museum of African Art in New York. Alexander created an installation of multiple sculptures, featuring a life-sized fibre-glass harbinger. The sculpture was adorned with the same green overcoat and skull helmet that he wears in the present lot; here too he was depicted skirting around a high wire fence on his walking sticks.

    Holland Cotter writes of the artist's sculptures: "They aren't saints or angels, though some, in their odd way, do look angelic. They're more closely related to the marginal creatures carved on high corbels and capitals in medieval churches: half-hidden, half-human, half-bestial things, refugees from the subconscious, defectors from dreams, staking claim to turf in the spiritual realm."

    P. Savage (ed.), Making Art in Africa 1960 – 2010, (Surrey and Burlington, 2014).
    Lot 53
    Jane Alexander
    (South African, born 1959)
    'Harbinger in correctional uniform, lost march' (image size) unframed
    £3,000 - 5,000
    €4,100 - 6,800

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