Portraits, heads and character studies the focus in April

This year, the auction house has revamped the format of its monthly timed auctions to include a curated session dedicated to a specific theme.

If you love art, you probably love to learn something new about it whenever you get the chance. What better opportunity than right there, on the spot on your way to buy your next favourite piece.

Strauss & Co, the renowned auction house in Africa, is geared up for its third Timed Online Auction in 2023, which opened on April 3. This year, the auction house has revamped the format of its monthly timed auctions to include a curated session dedicated to a specific theme. April’s theme focuses on portraits, heads and character studies. Dr Alastair Meredith, senior art specialist at Strauss & Co, explains that a portrait can be executed in a range of styles and mediums, and throughout history has served a variety of purposes. Meredith has curated the session to cover the diverse range giving a snapshot of South African art from the last century, with works by modernists like Gregoire Boonzaier to contemporary artists like Bambo Sibiya.

One of the session’s highlights is titled Blue Barry (estimate R 12 000 – 16 000), a moody portrait by the late Andrew Verster, a Durban-based artist known for his vibrant and colourful murals and lush landscape paintings. Verster was an excellent portraitist, and his work often included LGBTQ+ themes. The value of Verster’s work has been increasing steadily over the past few years, and he is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Other highlights from the session include a large-scale painting by Bambo Sibiya, winner of the 2012 Absa Atelier Gerald Sekoto Award, titled Father and Daughter (estimate R 70 000 – 100 000) and a work by Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, Un Admirateur de Jimi Hendrix, 1967 (An Admirer of Jimi Hendrix, 1967), (estimate R 25 000 – 35 000), – a rare find in South Africa’s secondary art market. The auction will also include affordable works by auction stalwarts William Kentridge, Keith Alexander, Bettie Cilliers-Barnard, Diane Victor; sculptures by Noria Mabasa and Dylan Lewis; and ceramic art by Ruan Hoffman.

“We are particularly excited about Mongezi Ncaphayi’s beautiful work, Abstract Composition in Yellow (estimate R 50 000 – 70 000)” says Meredith. The imposing work contrasts striking geometric forms with soft, billowy stains, similar to American abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler’s soak staining techniques. Ncaphayi’s work features in several important international collections, notably the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC and The Ampersand Foundation in London.

Meredith also highlights an early, proto-surrealist work by Kevin Roberts. This untitled work shows influences from Italian metaphysical artist Giorgio de Chirico and surrealist Rene Magritte’s trompe l’oeil effects. Johannes Phokela’s haunting interpretation of Edouard Manet’s The Execution of Maximilian is another fantastic work in the sale.

The Timed Online Auction opened on Monday 3 April and will close at one-minute intervals from 14:00 on April 11.

To register, bid and buy, please visit

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