Modern, Post-War, Contemporary Art

Live Virtual Auction, 7 - 8 November 2021

Evening Sale
  • Keith Alexander; The Celebration
  • Keith Alexander; The Celebration
  • Keith Alexander; The Celebration
  • Keith Alexander; The Celebration
  • Keith Alexander; The Celebration

Lot Estimate
ZAR 500 000 - 700 000

About this Item

South African 1946-1998
The Celebration

signed and dated 94

oil on canvas
75 by 106cm excluding frame; 95,5 by 126,5 by 6,5cm including frame


The years leading up to South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 were characterised by turmoil and uncertainty – television screens and print news media were flooded with disturbing images of political and social unrest, which caused a sense of fear and impotence. Keith Alexander experienced this along with other South Africans but instead of depicting violence and bloodshed directly, his images are often dark and foreboding, sometimes with symbolic images of destruction such as flames and veld fires. In The Distinguished Guest, sold by Strauss & Co in May 2021, the artist depicts himself standing at the entrance of an isolated house, dressed in black suit and tie as if ready for a formal event, waiting for something to happen or someone to arrive. In the present lot, the same moment is depicted from the opposite direction, from inside the house. A shaft of light penetrates the darkness, illuminating a dome-shaped cloche on the table, which suggests a celebratory dinner has been prepared. The portrait of Nelson Mandela hanging on the wall implies that he is the distinguished guest who is arriving and who, potentially, will dispel the darkness more fully.


David Robbins (2000) Keith Alexander: The Artist in Retrospect, Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, illustrated in colour on page 149.

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