The award winning Grime MC has had a successful 20 year long music career, and now adding to add to his long list of achievements, he is venturing into the world of contemporary art. Skepta is auctioning off a painting at the Contemporary Curated sale at Sotheby’s. It’s his debut painting, titled Mama Goes to Market, depicting a Nigerian market.
He told the Financial Times that he created Mama Goes to Market in 2020, when his shows were cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I guess I was just so used to expressing myself all the time, every two days, out doing a show somewhere new,” he said, adding that he wasn’t “gonna write a song about lockdown and staying in.”
For Skepta, the painting is a way of connecting with his African heritage and keeping this alive for his family – especially his daughter, who was born in 2018. “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.
Nine of the works being sold as part of this year’s Contemporary Curated sale were handpicked by Skepta; he says he chose each piece because “they all had an African feeling about them”.
“Whether they were created by African artists or not, they all share in this essence,” he said in a statement. “In one way or another, they triggered powerful dialogues with my painting too.” Notable pieces chosen by Skepta include Simon Helps, a 1986 painting by Sir Frank Bowling, and Addicktion, a portrait by British-Ghanaian painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
On his painting, Skepta also added: “My mum used to carry me just as the woman in my painting carries her child. I always planned to include these four figures: a young boy, two women engrossed in conversation, and another lady rationing rice into a bowl besides baskets brimming with fruit and veg. I designed their clothes too - ‘Nigerian Couture’.”
How much will Skepta’s painting cost?
The painting’s pre-sale estimate is £40,000 to £60,000, although there is no guarantee that it will sell at that price.