By Nii B. Andrews.
An old merchant house on the East African island of Lamu houses a spectacular contemporary African Art (CAA) collection assembled with passion by Robert Devereux.
The house is called Sina Jina which translates from the Swahili into English as “A Place With No Name”.
The collection, started from 2003, is phenomenal and contains work executed by high flying creatives from Africa and its Diaspora.
Devereux explained that in assembling his collection:
“I have never collected with any real strategy, purpose or plan other than to work with and support artists from the African continent in a relatively early stage of their career.
I acquire art that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up — it is as simple and as unsophisticated as that.”
The Tate’s Acquisition Fund for African Art appointed him as its first chair in 2012 when the prestigious institution decided that it needed to significantly improve and increase its contemporary offering from Africa in accordance with international best practice.
On 13 October, during Frieze Week, A Place With No Name: Works from the Sina Jina Collection will be offered at Christie’s in London.
A total of 74 lots will be available, making it the largest single-owner CAA collection to ever be offered at auction.
Ranging across a diversity of media, the works present a breathtaking picture of CAA: chain saw and acetylene torch wood works by El Anatsui, gutsy abstractions by Sudanese master Ibrahim El-Salahi, flamboyant self-portraits by Samuel Fosso, woven textile and collage works by Elias Sime, and enigmatic portraits by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
A percentage of the auction proceeds will go towards supporting the work of The African Arts Trust, which intends to use the funds to supplement the work of Gasworks, The Africa Centre, Lamu Environment Fund and Bët Bi.
The above is consistent with Devereaux’s strenuous efforts to foster the development of CAA.
He also feels that it is vitally important for artists to develop strong domestic markets – where currently South Africa and Nigeria are leaders in the field.
The eminent collector emphasises that to start a CAA collection, “The key, is passion: you should never buy for investment.”
The accompanying catalog is a tour de force with texts by leading curators and writers, including Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Christine Eyene, Azu Nwagbogu, and Aurella Yussuf.
A Place With No Name: Works From the Sina Jina Collection; 6 – 13 October 2022
Auction; 13 Oct, 04:00 PM (BST) ,Christie’s, 8 King Street, St. James’s London SW1Y 6QT.