Willie Bester (South African, born 1956) Semekazi (Migrant Miseries)
Lot 58
Willie Bester
(South African, born 1956)
Semekazi (Migrant Miseries)
Sold for £ 5,000 (US$ 6,638) inc. premium

Lot Details
Willie Bester (South African, born 1956)
Semekazi (Migrant Miseries)
oil, enamel and mixed media on board
125 x 125cm (49 3/16 x 49 3/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired from Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, in 1993.
    In the collection of Jean Pigozzi, Paris.
    Acquired by a private collector at Sotheby's, London, 24 June 1999, lot 1.

    Exhibited
    Johannesburg, Goodman Gallery, Willie Bester, 1993.

    Literature
    A. Magnin & J. Soulillou, eds., Contemporary Art of Africa, (New York, 1996), p.157. Illustrated on the front cover.


    Migrant Miseries narrates the story of Zani Stanford Semekazi, a Xhosa man living in Crossroads, one of Cape Town's largest townships. At the centre of the work is a portrait of Semekazi. He gazes out at us hopelessly from behind a mesh of barbed wire. To the right is his identity book. His 'Group' and 'Tribe' are clearly marked: Xhosa.

    Bester executed the artwork in 1993, as the apartheid era drew to a close. Whilst racial discrimination was no longer part of the country's legislation, men like Semekazi still faced many obstacles. Having been denied access to training and education, job opportunities for the black community were limited to low-skill roles. In 1993, unemployment was rife.

    To the right of Semekazi's identity book, a red-lettered sign reads 'NO JOBS'. The protagonist's dilemma is laid out in the panel above:

    "NZ.S. SEMEKAZI. From January, no pay. And R60.74 each month. I rent £6 for accommodation. I pay R5.00 in church. And what can I do for £60.00. I have wife and kido, my child is doing STD9."

    His situation seems bleak. And yet there are suggestions that the future will be better. The portraits of Semekazi's smiling children and the inclusion of a bible indicate that with the help of these supports, he will be able to weather his current hardships.

    This artwork was previously in the collection of art enthusiast and philanthropist, Jean Pigozzi. Now one of the the largest collections of contemporary African art in the work, Pigozzi was first inspired by a visit to the 'Magiciens de la Terre' exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1989. Presenting works by more than a hundred artists from fifty countries, it was hailed as "the first truly international exhibition of worldwide contemporary art". For many of the participants, it was the first time their artworks had been shown outside their native country. Pigozzi was overwhelmed by the wealth of talent on display: "The colours, the imagination, the subjects – I was definitely impressed. Of course I knew that interesting creative work was happening all over the world, but there seemed to be no way to find it, to see it."

    Pigozzi determined to redress this lack of exposure by assembling his own collection. Working with one of the exhibition's curators, Andre Magnin, he established the Contemporary African Art Collection. CAAC now includes several thousand paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, installations and films. Having been exhibited at numerous prestigious venues including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Guggenheim Bilbao, CAAC has helped to launch the careers of many African artists.

    In 1999, Pigozzi auctioned part of the collection to raise money for a new initiative - the Jean Pigozzi Prize for Contemporary African Art - which was to be awarded to a sub-Saharan contemporary painter, sculptor or photographer. The current work was one of the lots sold at the auction.
Activities
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. Eliza Sawyer
    Specialist - South African Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5881
Similar Items