The “Africa Now” auctions at Bonham’s have established and continue to set the market for Modern and Contemporary African Art for over six years. It is now apparent that this field has split into two separate areas of interest for our clients, both vendors and buyers: Modern African Art and Contemporary African Art.

Businesswoman, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija’s NGO project, Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF) and U.K, London-based auction house, Bonhams have found a common cause in the promotion of African art.

A statement from the foundation said the event, which was sponsored by Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management, had in attendance Mrs. Alakija, members of the Board of Trustees, Directors at Bonhams & Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management hosted British and African VIP’s, influential art collectors and captains of industries to the event.

Alakija noted that the hosting of the event by Rose was to bring awareness to the work of the foundation and its desire to partner with organisations, individuals, among others in the areas of health care services, technology as tool for capacity building and educational training opportunities for its numerous widows, their children and orphans.

However, the May 2015 edition of the yearly ‘Africa Now’ auction, which featured works of Nigerian artists and others from across the continent, has recorded quite a new set of records. The results of the auction showed total sales of £827,000 (N256 million)

Mrs Alakija (Rose of Sharon Foundation) with Mrs Meron Oduneye & Mr Gbite Oduneye (CEO, A&O Acquisitions)

On behalf of the auctioneers, Julian Roup said the “new records were from Erhabor Emokpae (Nigerian, 1934-1984) ‘Eda’, sold for £10,625; Ato Delaquis, (Ghanaian, born 1945) ‘Flamboyants’, sold for £9,375; Bernard Matemera (Zimbabwean, 1946-2006), ‘Elephant Spirit’ sold for £7,750; and for a wooden sculpture by El Anatsui (lots 64 and 65 sold for £62,500 or $100,000 each.)”

The top ten sales were dominated by the works of two Nigerian artists, Dr. Ben Enwonwu and Prof. Yusuf Grillo. Also, Enwonwu, was rated as the most valuable sale at the auction. “Enwonwu, an elegant bronze figure ‘Anyanwu Simplified’ which bears many similarities to the sculpture commissioned for the National Museum of Lagos in 1958. It was the top lot in the sale at £74,500. His painting ‘Africa Dances’ 1973 depicting an energetic dance that serves as a metaphor for Africa’s identity sold for £68,500 was the second highest price.”

CEO of A&O Acquisitions Mr Gbite Oduneye mentioned “African art has a long history that in the last few years has gained much of its exposure, you can really see the value of Modern and Contemporary African art showing double digit returns as an investment class, there has been a lot of interest from Asia in particular, Chinese investors are taking advantage of the market”

The first instalment was on Wednesday 20th May 2015 at Bonham’s, New Bond Street. The auction of post-war modern art from Africa, it included strong Nigerian pieces with many other modern artist from across Africa also include: Ben Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillio, Malagatana, Ablade Glover, Amon Kotel, Kolade Oshinowo, Susanne Wenger, Uzu Egonu.

KOLADE OSHINOWO ‘Awon Oba ati Ijoye Alaye’ (The Kings and the Chiefs of the World) 1956

The second instalment of the auction will be on Thursday 15th October, This auction will contain the works that fit into the current aesthetic of contemporary art. The artists will be licing practitioners of the best that Africa has to offer in the contemporary art genre. It will include artists such as; El Anatsui, Ousmane Sow, Malick Sebide, Cheri Samba, Bruly Bouabre, Jane Alexander, Nicholas Hlobo, Edson Chagas.

BENEDICT CHUKWUKADIBIA ENWONWU M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994) Dance Spirit (1956)


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