Curatorial Voices: Modern and Contemporary Art from Africa

Live Virtual Auction, 28 February 2023

Curatorial Voices: Modern and Contemporary Art from Africa
About the Session

Curatorial Voices: Modern and Contemporary Art from Africa is a dynamic collaborative project conceived by Strauss & Co to address the need for diversified representation of artists from across the African continent in the secondary market. Curated by Strauss & Co Heads of Sale, Kirsty Colledge and Kate Fellens, with input by seven international art experts with embedded knowledge of Africa; Serge Tiroche, Valerie Kabov, Heba Elkayal, Danda Jaroljmek, Anne Kariuki, Dana Endundo Ferreira, Kimberley Cunningham. Curatorial Voices presents collectors with a broad selection of work by leading contemporary artists alongside select pieces by important historical artists.

Sold for

ZAR 2 173 125
Lot 9
  • Cinga Samson; Before the day has a meaning
  • Cinga Samson; Before the day has a meaning
  • Cinga Samson; Before the day has a meaning

Lot Estimate
ZAR 1 200 000 - 1 600 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 2 173 125

About this Item

South African 1986-
Before the day has a meaning

signed and dated 2016 on the reverse

oil on canvas
80 by 60cm excluding frame; 82,5 by 62,5 by 4,5cm including frame


Accompanied by a copy of the certificate of authenticity from Blank Projects signed by Cinga Samson, 7 June 2017.

Cinga Samson is widely admired for his enigmatic portraits of blank-eyed youths posed alone or in groups in verdant landscapes reminiscent of the southern Cape. Highly coveted by collectors, these fantastical portraits, of which Lot 9 is a striking and important early example, originated out of a discrete suite of five works from 2016 in which Samson portrayed fashionably dressed young men in floral settings. Samson had just turned 30. In a shift from his earlier crepuscular studies of flowers and collared figures à la Rembrandt, he started painting his studio assistants, as well as looking at himself. His mature portraits are characterised by the seductive pageant of masculine comportment and fragility.

The current lot derives from a more refined portrait series of flatly painted canvases featuring contemporary subjects that immediately followed his breakthrough Hliso Street series. Also numbering five works, Samson’s brooding and theatrical selfportraits of young men from his Safari Fantasy series confidently adapted rhetorical devices from Renaissance portraiture – notably the disjunction between figure and background – in his pursuit of wonder and enigma. Samson’s dreamy portraiture is strongly rooted in the history of painting, but also owes a debt to his formal training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography in 2010. His mature portraits are based on personal photographs and draw on skills acquired while assisting his teacher Deryck van Steenderen on commercial jobs.1

Although self-taught as a painter, Samson was informally mentored at Isibane Creative Arts, a shared artist studio in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. He initially worked with pastel crayons on paper, but as his financial situation improved shifted to acrylics on paper and later canvas. Lots 10 and 11 are from his debut solo, 700 Wives and 300 Concubines, its title a biblical reference to King Solomon, the third king of Israel, who was reputed to have a large harem. In these expressionistic renderings Samson’s interest in sartorial signifiers and penchant for graphically foregrounding his figural subjects is already evident.

1. Sean O’Toole (2021) ‘Never mind NFTs, Black figurative painting is the style du jour of the early 2020s’, Cur8, 28 June: news/ never-mind-nfts-black-figurative-painting-is-the-style-du-jour-of-theearly-2020s-2/


Blank Projects, Cape Town, 2017.

Private Collection.


Blank Projects, Cape Town, Safari Fantasy, 3 to 14 June 2017.

View all Cinga Samson lots for sale in this auction

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