Skepta Turns Painter & Art Curator Taking Over Sotheby’s

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

1 Sep 2022

After nearly 20 years in the game Joseph Adenuga Jr, better known as, Skepta is taking the next step in his relentless evolution partnering with historic auction house Sotheby’s as a painter and art curator.

The 2016 Mercury award winner is slated to auction off a painting at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale, titled Mama Goes to Market.

The painting – which took seven days to create – depicts a market scene in Nigeria, an ode to Adenuga’s heritage and is among a selection pieces that will be sold, by Chito, Slawn, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Ouattara Watts and Frank Bowling. 

Speaking to the Financial Times he laid out how covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown drove him towards his latest artistic expression:

“I’m still in a bit of a daze, because I didn’t do it for all this. I did it because I was just super-frustrated in my house. I guess I was just so used to expressing myself all the time, every two days, out doing a show somewhere new. So I just ordered the oil paints and the canvas [on Amazon].”

He expressed a desire to emphasise his heritage, a common motif in his work since his renaissance, saying: “I want my children to feel like they’ve been in an African household, whether it’s the music, the art, the clothes we’re wearing, the food we’re eating.”

“A lot of the African art in my house when I was growing up really shaped me as a man… I thought, I should try to make a conscious effort to put these things in the house,” he said.

“Struck” and “impressed” by Adenuga’s work Lisa Stevenson, head of curated sales at Sotheby’s hopes to open Sotheby’s up to a new audience:

“It’s to do with the aesthetics and the sentiment. One nice thing about the Curated sale is that it’s a very accessible sale and we’re seeing the boundaries between different disciplines being blurred; we’re seeing that a lot of younger audiences can come in. It’s culturally relevant.”