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Leading visual arts organisation celebrates its silver anniversary with star-studded art auction at Absa Gallery

Absa Gallery is proud to announce it will host the organisation’s 25th anniversary art auction on 17 November 2016.

The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios is one of Johannesburg’s leading visual arts organisations that has, for the past 25 years, given young artists a platform to flourish. During this time the Bag Factory has also become a valued partner in the Barclays L’Atelier art competition.

25, as the auction is simply called, will feature works from past and present Bag Factory artists, former participants in its visiting artists’ residency programme, former L’Atelier Award and Merit Award winners and stalwart South African visual artists, whose contributions add significant weight to the plethora of outstanding work that will feature at the auction.

The auction provides buyers with the opportunity to purchase the best contemporary work currently available. Some of these artworks have not yet been seen in public as they have been specially created for the auction by the participating artists.

These artists include luminaries Gordon Froud (As above, so below), Walter Batiss (Alpha Bat -self-portrait), William Kentridge (Untitled - Tree on landscape), Norman Catherine (Armed Response) and Roger Ballen (Assault).

Former L’Atelier winners include Pauline Gutter (2013) (Disgrace VI), Jaco van Schalkwyk (2013 Merit Award) (Vollig Richtig), Clive van den Berg (1987) (Untitled); former Bag Factory artists Helen Sebidi (By that time), Colbert Mashile (Plague) and Belinda Blignaut (When I wake up in my makeup) while current Bag Factory artists include Gail Behrmann (White Square 19) and Blessing Ngobeni (Waiting for New Africa).

Works from the Bag Factory’s co-founders, David Koloane (Saxophone 6), and Sam Nhlengethwa (The Launch and Coal Shed) have also been included in the auction showcase.

Enabling up-and-coming artists

Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum curator, says the auction furthers the objective of both the Bag Factory and Absa with regard to enabling the careers of up-and-coming artists in South Africa.

“The Bag Factory auction is a platform for these talented artists to gain the visibility they need. It will be an exciting evening of engaging with the artists, growing collections and experiencing a myriad of remarkable works of art. The auction will bring these artists’ works to life, and once again highlight just how valuable art is as a commodity, said Dr Bayliss.

He added: “This is just another way that we as Absa are showing our commitment to the industry as a whole. We are delighted to be a part of this auspicious experience, and to once again enable gifted artists to prosper. To us, this is Shared Growth in action.”

Founded in 1991, the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios was intended to be a place where artists of different races, cultures and backgrounds could come together to work. An ethos of sharing, exchange and mentorship has developed over the past 25 years, making this space an integral part of the development of the visual arts scene in South Africa.

Critical project

“This endowment auction is being held to ensure the Bag Factory is around for another generation of artists, curators and buyers to visit,” says Sarah Hallatt, director of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios. “Through our networks, and long-standing relationships with local artists, we put together this auction of contemporary art. Many of the artists have an affiliation to the Bag Factory, while others recognise and appreciate the importance of the space. Ultimately, we all believe the Bag Factory is a critical project with a vital role to play, and want others to enjoy it for generations to come.”

A number of other key players are also lending their support to help make the auction possible, including Strauss & Co, which will kindly host the auction, and Creative Feel, which is assisting with advertising the event. All funds raised from the auction will be used to renovate the Bag Factory’s studios and to support its key projects.

Artworks going under the hammer can be viewed at the Absa Gallery from 10 November 2016. Electronic catalogues of the works are available from Dr Paul Bayliss (paulbay@absa.co.za) and Aysha Waja (aysha@bagfactoryart.org.za).

25 takes place on Thursday 17 November 2016 from 19:00 to 21:30 at Absa Gallery, Absa Towers North, 161 Main Street, Johannesburg.