Works from Robert Devereux’s Sina Jina Collection will be a highlight of Christie’s Frieze Week program of sales and events.
Robert Devereux has supported the arts and artists since the 1980s and began acquiring works for his Sina Jina Collection in the early 2000s. This coincided with the seminal exhibition Africa Remix, curated by Simon Njami, which toured from Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, to Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and Hayward Gallery, London.
Taking its name from Swahili, ‘sina jina’ translates as a place with no name, a phrase associated with Devereux’s house on the island of Lamu, Kenya. In 1996, Devereux made a journey that took him from Mozambique to Kenya, and the collection was built as a response to what he has witnessed in the years that ensued.
Comprised of some 600 multi-media works, the sale will include around 70 pieces, becoming the largest single-owner collection dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora to be offered at auction. Described by Devereux as a “work in progress”, the Sina Jina Collection’s founding principle has always focused on supporting artists to continue creating pioneering art.
Featuring work by leading contemporary artists, including El Anatsui, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Nicholas Hlobo, William Kentridge, Marcia Kure, Elias Sime, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, part of the proceeds from the sale will be used to support arts and environmental charities. The auction will take place on 13 October 2022 alongside the 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale.
Highlights will be on view at Christie’s Paris in September alongside the Parcours du Monde, before being exhibited in London from 6 to 13 October. There will also be an educational lecture in collaboration with Christie’s Education. The auction has a pre-sale estimate in the region of £2 million.
Robert Devereux: “Proceeds from this auction will benefit a number of charities that are close to my heart, including The African Arts Trust that I founded. For as long as I can remember, Gasworks has been at the forefront of presenting artists from underrepresented parts of the world with a healthy focus on Africa.
It was here that I first encountered the work of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. In its new incarnation in the London borough of Southwark, The Africa Centre is the best possible platform for showcasing the breadth and depth of artists’ creativity in Africa and the diaspora. Bët Bi will be one of the first contemporary museums to be built in Africa designed by an African architect, led by the inspirational founder of the Albers Foundation, Nick Fox Weber.
I have a home in Lamu and therefore the protection of the island’s bio-diversity is a private passion, which The Lamu Environment Fund supports, particularly in the preservation of marine life.”
Isabel Millar, Specialist, Head of Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art: “We are immensely proud to partner with Robert Devereux on the sale of works from his Sina Jina Collection. Built over the course of the last 20 years, the extraordinary collection is a testament to his dedication to supporting artists from Africa and its diaspora.
Ranging from installations, sculpture and painting to photography, the diverse selection showcases the artists’ deep wealth of talent and is an inspiring proposition to new and seasoned collectors of contemporary African art. The sale will benefit a number of arts organisations, including The African Arts Trust, and proceeds will help to support the next generation of artists and grassroots arts organisations, as well as environmental initiatives.”
Katharine Arnold, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Europe: “Christie’s Frieze Week has historically presented auctions dedicated to the collections of key art world figures, including Leslie Waddington and Jeremy Lancaster, and we are delighted to collaborate with Robert Devereux as he offers his collection to benefit emerging art and our environment.
This October, we will also continue our highly successful partnership with 1-54 with further details of our event and auction programme to be announced in the coming weeks. We look forward to welcoming our clients from across the globe to our autumn season here at King Street.”
Robert Devereux first encountered the work of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye during the artist’s residency at Gasworks, London in 2007. Four works by the artist are presented, each one depicting a protagonist conjured from Yiadom-Boakye’s imagination. The figure in Highpower (2008, estimate: £600,000-800,000) could be a contemporary character or the representation of a renaissance man, a paragon of erudition.
Her paintings deliberately avoid being attributable to a particular moment in history, her practice instead highlighting that black figures have been always been present. Manual (2007, estimate: £120,000-180,000) and Erector (2007, estimate: £100,000-150,000) are offered alongside the playful triptych Magic (2007, estimate: £150,000-200,000).
Ibrahim El Salahi’s The Tree (2010, estimate: £20,000-30,000) forms part of his series that explored the depths of pure abstraction. A supremely elegant composition, his mastery of the genre cements his status as one of the most significant artists of the last century. The artist spent just over six months wrongly imprisoned without trial in Sudan. The hardship he endured there has informed much of his later work.
El Anatsui’s Ogal (2003, estimate: £60,000-80,000) is a wooden sculpture which typifies the artist’s expressive use of the medium, part drawing, and part sculpture. Created using tools that range from a chainsaw to a wood drill, the individual mark-making of the equipment is exploited by the artist to become an integral part of his artistic process.
Samuel Fosso’s Patrice Lumumba (2008, estimate: £12,000-18,000), taken from his African Spirits series sees Fosso inhabit the body and spirit of Lumumba, embracing his persona and reviving the energies of the visionary leader, the Congo’s first president who was murdered within weeks of taking office. This is presented alongside Le Chef: Celui Qui A Vendu L’Afrique Aux Colons (1997, estimate: £15,000-20,000), which was featured on the cover of the Africa Remix catalogue in 2004.
Deciding to remain in Abidjan during the Second Ivorian Civil War between 2010-2011, Aboudia’s work is populated with skulls and haunted expressions conveying the trauma of this period. There is an urgency to his bold expressive paintings as well as a consistently bold use of saturated colour as exemplified by his early and monumental work Untitled (2011, estimate: £60,000-80,000).
Elias Sime references and draws upon the craft traditions of weaving and braiding, creating work from circuits, wires, and keyboards, all of which are sourced from the largest open-air market in Africa, Addis Ababa.
Proceeds from the dedicated auction will benefit a number of arts charities internationally: Gasworks & Triangle Network, The Lamu Environmental Foundation (LEF), The Africa Centre, Bët-bi and the African Arts Trust. Often described as a London home for artists, Gasworks is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the UK and international artists through the provision of studios, artists’ residencies and career-defining exhibitions.
The Africa Centre is a charity that celebrates the diversity of Africa and its diaspora, promoting social cohesion, education, thought leadership, and innovation in art, culture, and entrepreneurship. Bët-bi (“the eye” in Wolof) is an institution devoted to the revelation and evocation of vision through art. It will be a museum and centre for culture and community constructed on an island in the Saloum Delta, near the city of Kaolack in Senegal.
The African Arts Trust is a charitable trust set up to support visual artists by Robert Devereux, following the successful fundraising auction of his private collection of post-war British art in 2010. The Lamu Environment Foundation (LEF) was established in 2021 to support grassroots environmental and conservation projects across Lamu County, Kenya to protect, preserve and restore the natural beauty for generations to come.
Christie’s will publish a book to accompany the sale that commemorates the collection, with texts by leading curators and writers, including Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Christine Eyene, Azu Nwagbogu, and Aurella Yussuf.