Is the 2018 Bonhams Africa Now Sale a sign of Ablade Glover’s Rise in Value?

Tutu (1974), Ben Enwonwu

If auction prices are indicative of market value, then Glover’s value is on the rise. And deservedly so. The Bonhams Africa Now auction in London last Thursday, 4 October 2018, offered an impressive collection of works by leading African artists—including a selection of 22 works by artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who I don’t think had a good outing, except for the charity sale lots. But that’s analysis for another day. Among the standouts at the auction are (NB hammer prices): Ben Enwonwu’s Tutu, 1974, the second rediscovered portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi, the Ile-Ife Princess, which sold for £260,000; Rhapsody in Blue, 1988, by Ben Enwonwu sold for £90,000; and No.2 Background 3, 2014 by Dawit Abebe sold for £20,000, more than doubled its estimate of £6,000 – 9,000, an achievement for a contemporary artist at Bonhams. See the auction results on Bonhams website here.

Ablade Glover is one of the most celebrated artists from Ghana. He is known for his depiction of African scenes—its landscapes, lorry parks, bustling markets, and its women, in a style described as ‘swirling between abstraction and realism’ and a technique that is distinct for his use of the palette knife instead of brushes. A contemporary of the members of the Zaria Art Society, Glover was on a scholarship at the Central School of Arts and Design, London when Bruce Onobrakpeya, Yusuf Grillo, Demas Nwokolo, et al were at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science & Technology, Zaria.

Glover has featured in several Bonhams Africa Now sales, but before now his results have not been impressive. Only once at the last three Bonhams auctions did his work sell slightly above its high estimate—in February 2017, out of six lots, two failed to sell and two sold below their low estimates. That’s why it’s noteworthy that at this auction all eight lots by Glover sold, and sold above low estimates—virtually unprecedented for artists with multiple lots at the auction. What’s more, five of the eight lots sold above high estimates with two of these selling at double their estimated values. I looked closely to see if his pieces had been valued more conservatively for this auction but this does not seem to be the case.

Does this means we will see an increase in the prices of Glover’s works in the primary market too? Perhaps. But this auction raises the possibility that there is more interest in or demand for his pieces, and we all know, the greater the demand, the higher the price. For those looking into art as investment options, Ablade Glover is one artist to watch in the coming year.

Adekemi is a lawyer and writer with a passion for the arts, particularly African art history. She is dedicated to discovering and documenting the most excellent artworks of our time. Follow her on Twitter at adekemitweets.
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