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Works by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu lead Bonhams Africa Now sale
Ben Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994), Ogolo, signed and dated 1992. Estimate: £100,000-150,000. Photo: Bonhams.


LONDON.- Key works by the Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu lead Bonhams Africa Now Sale in London on Thursday 4 October. Rhapsody in Blue (1988) is one of 25 lots by the artist in the 121-lot sale. It has an estimate of £60,000-90,000.

Rhapsody in Blue depicts the silhouette of a female nude, reclining against a vibrant blue and yellow background. Enwonwu expresses his solidarity with the Negritude movement though his striking portrayal of the central female form.

Another leading work by Enwonwu is Ogolo (1989), a monumental, dark painting of a male masquerade figure, with an estimate of £200,000-300,000. Ogolo was executed by Enwonwu two years after the death of his elder brother, Ike Francis Enwonwu. Enwonwu had a preoccupation with the striking tribal figure, which reappeared in many of his works between the years of 1988-1994, after witnessing it during a traditional masquerade at his brother’s funeral.

Other highlights from the sale include:

• Ben Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994), Ogolo, signed and dated 1992. It has an estimate of £100,000-150,000

• Ben Enwonwu, Agbogo-Mmuo Ogolo, titled, signed, and dated 1992. Part of the Igbo pantheon, the masquerade figures of Agbogho, Mmuo and Ogolo have been celebrated for centuries in Nigeria. It is estimated at £80,000-120,000

• Ben Enwonwu, Tutu, 1974. The work is the second rediscovered portrait of Enwonwu’s famous sitter, the Ife royal, Princess Adetutu Ademiluyi, to come to market. The portrait, which until recently has been considered lost, has an estimate of £200,000-300,000.

Bonhams Director of Modern African Art, Giles Peppiatt, said ‘Ben Enwonwu’s reputation has always been high but since Bonhams record breaking sale of Ben Enwonwu's Tutu, 1974, in February, we are finding an increased interest in his works. Bonhams is honoured to have been entrusted with the sale of such a wonderful selection. His pieces are completely captivating and depict both the culture and landscape of Nigeria’





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