Established in 2016 with a vision of becoming an African art auction house rooted in the vibrancy of the continent, Aspire celebrates half a decade of excellence in business with its rich modern and contemporary heritage. Driven by a mission to build collections of value for a global client base and to create wealth and prosperity on the African continent, Aspire has proven its commitment by breaking records in the sale of contemporary and modern African art.
By acknowledging the value and significance of Africa’s cultural contribution to the world through art, it has a proven track record of selling both significant and critically engaged art that is positioned for value and historically representative of its time. The focus is on quality, not quantity. Its emphasis is on historical art that is culturally engaged.
Aspire has an eye for works of inspirational luxury that speak not only to visual beauty but also to intellectual and emotional engagement. Aspire provides a full suite of services spanning auctions, private sales, art advisory, and collections management, offering clients cutting-edge art market insight and world-class specialist knowledge.
It recently added Percy Mabandu, Makgati Molebatsi, Sarah Sinisi, and Kholisa Thomas to join Ruarc Peffers, Emma Bedford, Jacqui Carney, and Marelize van Zyl — a diverse team of high-profile and experienced art specialists. Recent auction performances have vindicated Aspire’s Africa-centred outlook. The company achieved the highest sell-through rate in both 2020 and 2021 for modern works, when compared to older auction houses doing business in the region. It has also seen better average values for modern works, while leading with the highest average value for contemporary art, compared to its competitors.
These high-performance averages are typified by record sales for young contemporary female artists such as Mary Sibande, whose work A Terrible Beauty Is Born sold for a record R341 400 at Aspire’s 2020 Cape Town auction. A triptych by Turiya Magadlela titled Walking Spirits IV, V, and VI from her Inequalities series of 2018/19 sold for a record R356 782 (€20 325) in 2021 in Aspire’s Parisian sale. The same auction saw Godwin Champs Namuyimba’s Dreamers achieve a record — at the time — of R1 369 058 (€78 000), while Ayanda Mabulu’s Nontsundu reached another record of R404 242 (€23 035).
These record-breaking achievements affirm Aspire’s position as a player in the global art market, and highlight the expertise of its team. Evidence of Aspire’s commitment to the African continent is its decision to invest in high-end spaces where museum-level exhibitions can take place, growing its operations in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
It has recently moved its Cape Town operations into new premises in the burgeoning art hub of De Waterkant. The new offices and gallery are housed in a beautifully renovated former cloister from the late 1800s, combining old-world charm with contemporary functionality and elegance. The redesigned cottage has been reimagined to suit the strategic needs of a growing, forward-looking African art auction house. The building’s spacious halls and generous proportions perfectly suit the presentation and display requirements of a world-class gallery space, to showcase artworks in the best possible context, and host live auctions and public events.
On 30 September Aspire will hold a live auction of modern and contemporary art in Cape Town. See its website for more information on how to get involved, register to bid, or submit consignments for valuation.
• From the September edition of Wanted, 2021.