Aspire Auctions appoints new team of senior art specialists

By CityLife Arts Writer

Fine art auction house Aspire Auctions has announced the appointment of a new team of senior staff, that include two three senior art specialists and one lient advisory manager, to join the company with effect t from August 2021.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome new senior staff members to the Aspire team in Johannesburg and Cape Town. 
The Senior Art Specialists bring a wealth of expertise and experience and will be responsible for consigning and selling top-quality artworks at our auctions. Client Advisory will be in charge of managing and developing client relationships locally and abroad, while establishing seamless consulting experiences for our clients,” said the company in a statement yesterday.

Percy Mabandu 
Senior Art Specialist, Johannesburg

 Percy joins Aspire as Senior Art Specialist based in Johannesburg. He has been an advocate for contemporary art for almost two decades as one of South Africa’s leading Art Journalists working across print and broadcast, and as content consultant for various art galleries and cultural organisations. Percy’s writing has appeared across publications in South Africa and internationally, and he frequently publishes in Art AfricaMail & GuardianSunday TimesDepartures Magazine, and more. He is a regular contributor on art industry insights for various radio stations including SAfm, PowerFM and Radio 702.

He has held various positions working with Standard Bank Arts, has served as consultant for the FNB Joburg Art Fair, and curated art and jazz programmes and exhibitions for various galleries, including Gallery Momo and Everard Read Gallery.  Percy is the author of the book, Yakhal’inkomo – Portrait of a Jazz Classic, a book examining the life and impact of the historic jazz album in the visual arts, literature and music.

Sarah Sinisi
Senior Art Specialist, Cape Town

Sarah joins Aspire as Senior Art Specialist based in Cape Town. She has worked in the South African creative industries and art market for over 15 years. 
Commencing her career in the cultural development sector, Sarah worked with grassroots arts and crafts groups to develop sustainable livelihood strategies. After a successful 5 years, including working with the Department of Arts and Culture, Sarah shifted her focus to the fine art market, joining Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg, in 2007. She worked in Valuations and Curation and was appointed Head of Sales in 2008. In 2009 she relocated to Cape Town. She has overseen a number of high value private and auction sales, including the Kebble Auction in 2009, and has developed close relationships with prominent collectors. 
Sarah has also taken part in several publishing projects. In 2013 she was appointed Managing Editor for Raisonné Publishers, where she launched a project to catalogue artworks for publication and research. Working closely with private, corporate and public collections, she managed the documentation of approximately 1000 works, particularly from Irma Stern, Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Maggie Laubser and J.H Pierneef. More recently, Sarah was a specialist editor and contributing author for Jack Lugg: The House that Jack Built. 
She is a member of South African Visual Art Historians (SAVAH) and holds a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of Cape Town.

Makgati Molebatsi

Senior Art Specialist, Johannesburg

Makgati joins Aspire as Senior Art Specialist based in Johannesburg. In pursuing her passion for visual art, she retired from a thirty-year career in Marketing and Communications to study Art & Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London in 2016. 
Makgati founded the art consultancy, Mak’Dct Art Advisory & Agency to provide guidance to private collectors, corporates and early career artists in navigating the contemporary art world. In 2019, she was part of the team which cofounded Latitudes Art Fair in Johannesburg.
She has served on the board of The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, and the selection committee for the David Koloane Award and the Cassirer/Welz Award. Makgati currently sits on the board of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and has participated in their mentorship programme to the Ithuba Art Fund, a CSI initiative for emerging artists by the Citiq Group. She juried the artists’ selection for Emergence: Contemporary Artists to Watch at Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore, Maryland in the US and formed part of the selection committees for The Turbine Art Fair (2017-2019), the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture for the acquisition of artworks for the National Art Bank and the Sasol New Signatures Awards (2019). 
She produced and curated Iconic, Historic, Moments an exhibition by photographer Oscar Gutierrez, in celebration of the centenary of late former president Nelson Mandela. Makgati holds a BA(SS) Degree from The University of the North.

Kholisa Thomas
Client Advisory

Kholisa joins Aspire as Client Advisory Manager based in Johannesburg. She has over 15 years of local and international experience in consumer products management and customer relationship management in retail, luxury goods and the high-end art market as an entrepreneur.
Kholisa was the founder of Artfull, an independent art advisory business with the unique vision of connecting established and emerging artists to new and seasoned collectors through bespoke events and consulting services. She also started The Art Talks, an educational platform providing audiences with the opportunity to learn more about artists – up close and personal, in their studios and unique spaces in Johannesburg.
She is a keen advocate for social development and education, and is currently a board member of Ubuntu Pathways, an international non-profit organisation based in New York that provides an integrated support system to vulnerable children. She also supports in organising and hosting annual fundraising galas in Johannesburg, London and New York.
She sits on the board of SAFFCA (Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art) a non-profit foundation that aims to support and promote visual artists in Southern Africa by nurturing and facilitating global access for their work.

 Kholisa, graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a BA Degree in International Relations and Political History.

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