A striking work by rising star Amoako Boafo, entitled Portrait, is one of the highlights of Bonhams’ Modern & Contemporary African Art Sale on 8 October in London. It has an estimate of £15,000 – 20,000.
Bonhams Director of Modern & Contemporary African Art, Giles Peppiatt, comments: “Boafo’s work is really exciting, and his important and expressive pieces celebrating black identity have rightly gained international recognition. Mixing influences from his African heritage and his later schooling in Vienna, his bold works – with intense brushstrokes worked through using his fingertips – have understandably captured the imagination of collectors. Following such impressive results for two of Boafo’s works at Bonhams in June, we are especially pleased to be able to offer Boafo’s wonderful Portrait in our next Modern & Contemporary African Art sale.”
Born in Accra, Ghana in 1984 and based in Vienna, Austria, Amoako Boafo has become the talk of the artworld. Having studied at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Ghana, he followed curator and fellow artist, Sunanda Mesquita, now his wife, to Vienna in 2014, to pursue an MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. He was awarded the Walter Koschatzky Art Award in 2017, for works on paper by an artist under the age of 35, and the STRABAG Artaward International in 2019 for works by an artist under the age of 40. Last year, Boafo made his Art Basel Miami debut with Chicago’s Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, where the entire booth sold out, and he was firmly established as one to watch.
Despite Boafo’s mixed melody of influences, his style has often been compared to that of the famed Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918). Speaking of this influence on his work, Boafo commented “I just want my paintings to be as free as possible, and Schiele gave me that vibe — the strokes, characters, and composition… It helped to see another artist just dealing with himself and the people around him.” Boafo has emphasised, “The primary idea of my practice is representation, documenting, celebrating and showing new ways to approach blackness.” His most well-known series, the Black Diaspora portraits, are an expressive celebration of blackness and a powerful ode to his own identity.
Boafo’s work features in a number of important private collections and has been acquired by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and The Albertina Museum, Vienna, as well as by the artist Kehinde Wiley.
In June two works by Boafo, Portrait of a Young Lady, and Portrait of a Young Man, sold for more than six times their estimates at Bonhams Modern & Contemporary Art sale in London – achieving an impressive £68,812 and £65,062 respectively.
Other highlights of the sale include:
- William Kentridge (South African, Born 1955), The Caged Panther from ‘Confessions of Zeno’. Estimate: £70,000 – 100,000.
A charcoal working drawing Kentridge made in 2002 for Confessions of Zeno, a theatrical multimedia performance staged at Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany. The piece was a collaboration between Kentridge, the Handspring Puppet Company, Kevin Volans, Jane Taylor, The Duke Quartet and Dawid Minnaar.
Inspired by Italo Svevo’s 1923 novel, La Coscienza di Zeno, the film piece depicted a dialogue between the tormented and guilt-ridden protagonist, Zeno, and his psychoanalyst. In the book, the dialogue takes place in Trieste on the eve of WWI. Zeno’s personal turmoil echoes the wider geopolitical situation. The drawing depicts a panther pacing in a cage, symbolising Zeno’s sexual frustration and entrapment amid his professional ambitions. The image also alludes to Rilke’s 1902 poem, ‘The Panther’.
- William Kentridge (South African, Born 1955), Homecoming. Estimate: £80,000 – 120,000.
- Chéri Samba (Democratic Republic of Congo, Born 1956), Qui Cersent La Tombe De L’afrique? (Who Digs the Grave of Africa?). Estimate: £40,000 – 60,000.
- Anton Van Wouw (South African, 1862-1945), The Art Student. Estimate: £50,000 – 80,000.
- Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B. E. (Nigerian, 1917-1994), Ogolo, 1989. Estimate: £35,000 – 50,000.