The greatest artists have one thing in common; their art lives on after they die. Even though he lived on modest means before he departed, the artwork of Geoffrey Mukasa fetched the highest price at the 5th edition of Art Auction East Africa 2018.
Mukasa past on in 2009. He was 55. However, the work he did in the year 1993 titled: “In the Sugar Plantations” fetched a cool Ksh 1,937,100 (about sh72m); the highest price at the auction.
Geoffrey Mukasa was born in 1954 to one of Uganda’s most prominent doctors. Many people expected him to follow in his father's footsteps, but the murder of his father during Idi Amin’s coup brought drastic changes to his life, including leaving Uganda to study art.
Mukasa travelled to India to pursue a degree in Art at Lucknow University, graduating in 1984. During this time, he was greatly inspired by his exposure to European and Indian aesthetic values. He threw himself into his work with vigour, focusing mainly on human relationships with the environment and one another.
In the early 1990s, on returning to Uganda, Mukasa became a key figure in the movement to revive cultural life in Kampala. This cultural movement was seen as a unifying force and an inspiration for the nation’s recovery after years of military dictatorship.
Mukasa’s work is widely collected and although it appears at international auctions, larger pieces especially, are becoming harder to find.
There were other famous Ugandan born artists such as the late Fabian Mpagi, Sanaa Gateja, Eli Kyeyune, Kizito Maria Kasule, Theresa Musoke, Stephen Kasumba, Ian Mwesiga, Romano Lutwama, Samson ‘Xenson’ Ssenkaaba and Jak Katarikawe that provided exceptional work.
“This year’s auction brought in new local and international collectors, some of whom were discovering East African artists for the first time and we are delighted to report that each year, sales have increased by around $10,000.” said Danda Jaroljmek, Founder and Director of the Art Auction East Africa.
The auction presented 53 Lots of modern and contemporary art from a mainly secondary market from 10 countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Africa, Congo, and new this year, Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Returning for the fifth year to take the sale, was Dendy Easton, a British auctioneer with over 40 years of experience at Sotherby’s and Bonhams auction houses and the Antiques Roadshow on BBC TV.
Other top Lots include but are not limited to the following:
1. Lot 2 – Birds at Home, circa 1993 by the late Geoffrey Mukasa (Ugandan) sold for Ksh 997, 900 ($9,688)
2. Lot 5 – Untitled (Sheep on Submarines), 2007 by Peterson Kamwathi (Kenyan) sold for Ksh 939, 200 ($9,118)
3. Lot 51 – Pro Afro Woman, 2017 by Samson ‘Xenson’ Ssenkaaba (Ugandan), sold for Ksh 915, 720 ($8,890)
4. Lot 45 – It is Not Clear from Constitution Bull series, 2005, by Peterson Kamwathi (Kenyan) sold for Ksh 845, 280 ($8,207)
5. Lot 15 – Untitled, circa 1968-72 by Edward Saidi Tingatinga (Tanzanian) sold for Ksh845, 280 ($8,207)