Curatorial Voices: African Landscapes, Past and Present

Live Virtual Auction, 19 February 2024

Curatorial Voices: African Landscapes, Past and Present
About the Session

From Thomas Baines to Jake Aikman, Curatorial Voices: African Landscapes, Past and Present will showcase art by pioneering modernist and trailblazing contemporary artists, spanning 175 years of visual landscape painting on the African continent. This comprehensive auction reveals a nuanced understanding of the diverse cultural, historical, and environmental contexts that have shaped artistic representations of the landscape. Through an examination of various themes, the auction seeks to engage viewers in a dialogue that transcends time and space, connecting past representations to contemporary perspectives. The auction attempts to engage with the diversity of artists that have shaped and continue to shape the depiction of Africa through time.

The auction invites viewers on a captivating journey through the artistic expressions that mirror the multifaceted nature of African terrain. Through meticulous  curation and insightful analysis, the catalogue aspires to be a valuable resource for scholars, art enthusiasts and anyone eager to embark on a thought-provoking exploration of Africa’s rich and complex artistic heritage.

Curatorial Voices
Recognising the dynamic discourse surrounding African Landscape, both past and present, the auction features texts by invited contemporary curators responding to the auction selection and themes. As external voices, they provide critical insights into the complexities of the landscape theme. By amplifying these contemporary perspectives, the exhibition seeks to bridge the gap between traditional representations and the ever-evolving discourse on the role of African art within the global art market.

Azza Satti, Independent Curator, Kenya
Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), Nigeria
Camilla van Hoogstraten, Head of Sales, Latitudes Online
Ugoma Ebilah, Curator, Gallerist & Founder of Bloom Art
Nkgopoleng Moloi, Independent Curator, South Africa


  • Cinga Samson; Hliso Street V
  • Cinga Samson; Hliso Street V
  • Cinga Samson; Hliso Street V


Lot Estimate
ZAR 2 000 000 - 3 000 000

About this Item

South African 1986-
Hliso Street V

signed and dated 2017 on the reverse

oil on canvas
80 by 60cm excluding frame; 83,5 by 64 by 6,5cm including frame

Notes

Ancestral memory courses through the magical portraiture of Cinga Samson. Both of the artist’s parents have passed on; only his father, who died in 2020, was witness to his extraordinary rise to international prominence. Samson has consistently invoked the memory of his parents in his celebrated portraiture, most notably in a formative suite of five works titled Hliso Street, of which this lot was the final instalment. Started in 2016, shortly after he turned 30, the Hliso Street series was explicitly devoted to the artist’s mother, who died in 2003. Rendered in his signature dark palette, Samson described this series as honouring 'my mother’s aspirations for me and her instructions.'1

Samson spent much of his youth living in the Mthatha area of the Eastern Cape. He has spoken of how his mother planted a hedge of flamboyant canna lilies as a boundary marker at their rural home.2 Blooms were also displayed in the family home. His stepmother shared this love for flowers. After a period working in an expressionistic style redolent of Xolile Mtakatya, his earliest painting mentor, Samson worked on a series of still life and vanitas paintings. These paintings provided a testing ground for his technical experiments with form, tone and material, including glazes, as well as enabled him to synthesise influences such as urban Black culture and Western genre painting into a coherent aesthetic. The series Lord Forgive Me for My Sins ‘Cause Here I Come (2015), currently on view in Samson’s early-career survey at Norval Foundation, is indicative: it references Dutch Golden Age painting, Paul Cezanne and rapper Tupac Shakur.

The Hliso Street series of portraits are an important bridge between Samson’s neo-baroque experiments in a popular Cape painterly subject – flowers – and his career-defining portraits. Dreamy and surreal, the Hliso Street series established the template for Samson’s frontal portraits depicting raffish young men with pupil-less eyes bearing flowers posed in verdant landscapes. Commenting on these new works in a contemporaneous review, a critic highlighted the vibrant colours – in this lot scarlet, golden yellow and pink – appearing through the murk of Samson’s scenography. 'These paintings are, of course, not purely representational,' added the critic, 'they are not figurative studies, but rather representations of an absence, of a body half-forgotten, only able to be depicted by its silhouette and those decisively recognisable human commonalities of lips, hands and the whites of the eyes.'3

This lot is notable in Samson’s overall output of single-subject portraits for its wholly unworked face. The head and neck area emerge as a dark extrusion of undifferentiated chocolatey browns from the lavishly detailed body of the subject. At the time, Samson was still experimenting with his figures. The Modigliani-like eyes without pupils for which he is now widely known featured in only some of the Hliso Street works. Samson’s portraiture was the source of near-instant acclaim. In 2018, his 80 by 60cm portraits, priced each at $10 000, quickly sold out at the Armory Show in New York. A solo booth at Art Basel at Miami Beach achieved the same outcome. Buzz around Samson’s oneiric portraits remains unwavering.

1. Rahel Aima (2020) Mousse Magazine, ‘The Language of Flowers: Cinga Samson’, online, 2 July: https://www.moussemagazine.it/magazine/cinga-samson-rahel-aima-2020/
2. Media release (2016) for exhibition Figure, blank projects, Cape Town, online, https://blankprojects.com/Figure
3. M Thesen Law (2017) Adjective, ‘Requisite Corpse: The Dirty Monster of Dr. Frankenstein’, online, 6 January: http://www.adjective.online/2017/01/06/requisite-corpse-m-thesen-law/

Provenance

blank projects, Cape Town, 2017.

Private Collection.

Exhibited

Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, blank projects booth, 17 to 19 February 2017.

Literature

Eileen Kinsella (2017) Artnet, Gallerists Put Fresh Focus on Emerging African Artists at Cape Town Art Fair, online, https://news.artnet.com/market/cape-town-art-fair-2017-861953/amp-page, accessed 16 November 2023.

View all Cinga Samson lots for sale in this auction



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