South African Modernism and surprising tales from a life in the auction world
We went upstairs into one of the bedrooms and he gets on the floor and pulls out this enormous work from under the bed, which was wrapped in dog blankets, those grey dog blankets. And he threw the blankets off like a matador, and revealed the most spectacular Pierneef painting I'd ever seen. - Alastair Meredith
In this episode, Alastair Meredith chats to Refiloe Mpakanyane about his fascination with South African modernist art; where it all started and why the genre remains the gift that keeps on giving to the South African public and the world. Alastair lets us into the workings of the secondary art market and shares heartwarming anecdotes of unexpected encounters with forgotten art gems. His is a work of passion and a reminder of the wealth of talent, flair and history that South Africa's art industry embodies.
Alastair Meredith (b.1984, Johannesburg) is a passionate auctioneer with extensive scholarly knowledge of early twentieth-century South African art. A skilled communicator, he has delivered numerous public lectures and also conducted many auctions.
After completing his Bachelor of Arts (Art History and English Literature) at the University of Edinburgh, Alastair attended Cambridge University where he completed both his Master’s and Doctoral degrees. It was his PhD research into the life and work of the Cape Town-born painter Jan Juta, also an accomplished muralist and designer, that first brought Alastair to the attention of Strauss & Co’s late Managing Director, Stephan Welz. Alastair’s scholarly knowledge, paired with his skills as a lecturer and teacher, make him brilliant at contextualising artists and their work.
Since joining Strauss & Co in 2014, his professional interests have expanded to include the curatorial aspect of displaying and cataloguing artworks. Harnessing his sensitivity as a researcher and nous as an auctioneer, Alastair now spearheads an on-going initiative at Strauss & Co to champion, at auction, neglected artists and stylistic movements from the twentieth century. These sales include a comprehensive overview of KwaZulu-Natal art (2017) and ‘Unsung History’ (2018), a sale of paintings and sculpture from 1910 to 1990. He is skilled at perceptively gathering works for these sales in a manner that fulfils the expectations of sellers while presenting buyers with new insights into South Africa’s astonishingly diverse art history.
Alastair was appointed head of Strauss & Co’s Johannesburg art department in 2017. He works out of our Johannesburg office. He is qualified to address any inquiries related to South African Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture on behalf of Strauss & Co.
About the Latitudes Podcast
Hosted by dynamic broadcast journalist and penchant for the arts Refiloe Mpakanyane, The Latitudes Podcast, which is the only podcast dedicated to contemporary African art, is an immersive and engaging platform that builds a new layer of access to the contemporary visual arts from Africa.
Latitudes is now a pan-African platform with a global audience, and this podcast is an additional discoverability tool for global audiences to uncover African art and learn about the featured topics and speakers.
Season one of the Latitudes Podcast explores new ways of accessing and thinking about the contemporary visual arts from Africa, while building a robust archive of thought leadership.
About Refiloe Mpakanyane
Refiloe Mpakanyane is a broadcast journalist, with a penchant for the arts. Known for her love and support of local African literature, art and artists, Mpakanyane has an Honours Degree from the Wits School of Journalism and majored in International Relations, Media Studies and English Literature for her undergrad. Her firm grounding in the critical, analytical and creative thinking of the humanities discipline has underpinned her passion for broadcasting, leading her to delve into working not only behind the scenes in radio and television production, but in front of the camera and hosting her own radio shows as well.
About Latitudes Online
Latitudes Online is the world's leading online marketplace for art from Africa. Discover and buy artworks from over 1,700 artists and enjoy editorial from leading voices on the continent. When you buy from Latitudes Online you have peace of mind that your artwork will be safely delivered to you in perfect condition. Click here to start your collecting journey.
About iTOO Artinsure
iTOO is a collective of industry leading experts across a range of special risk insurance offerings. Art and collectables are a fast growing asset class around the world. Representing years of value that could diminish in a matter of seconds, it’s critical to take the time to insure with an expert who understands the length and breadth of the industry. Damage, an increasing rise in cultural crime and forgery can translate to serious loss in terms of your appreciating works and collectables.
Further Reading In Articles
African Artist Directory