Skepta’s first and – currently – only painting is being auctioned at Sotheby’s

“I did it because I was just super-frustrated in my house”: Skepta’s debut artwork, produced as an outlet during lockdown, is titled Mama Goes to Market.

Date
2 September 2022

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Skepta is adding not one but two more strings to his bow. The Mercury Prize-winning artist is making his debut at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale as both a painter and a curator. The artwork, his first and so far only painted work, is titled Mama Goes to Market. It will appear alongside around 90-120 artworks, between eight to 12 of which Skepta has curated himself.

Skepta revealed the new creative venture in a recent interview with the Financial Times, stating: “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.” Amidst a series of cancelled shows during the pandemic, the musician says he turned to painting as a new form of self-expression. He adds that he certainly wasn’t “gonna write a song about lockdown and staying in,” so instead ordered the oil paints and canvas on Amazon before getting to work.

The final artwork, depicting a market scene in Nigeria, took seven days to paint and an additional six to dry. In comparison, Skepta recalls producing the hook for the hugely successful single Praise the Lord with A$AP Rocky “in his hotel room in London in 10 minutes”.

In the Financial Times interview, Skepta outlines how art impacted him in his youth. “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 [...] 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.”

The price of Mama Goes to Market is currently estimated at £40,000-£60,000. Though Skepta’s wonderful new work has garnered significant attention from the art world, the musician seems to hint that it will not develop into a full-time venture. “When I’m making music, it’s more or less an energy,” he tells the Financial Times. “I’m just going with the vibe. Painting – I’m not going with the vibe. I’m thinking: ‘What does the underneath of somebody’s nose look like?’ [...] I ain’t got the patience for painting!”

Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated will run from 7–13 September 2022, with artists including Frank Bowling featured within Skepta’s curated selection.

Further Info

Skepta: Mama Goes to Market (Copyright © Skepta / Sotheby’s, 2021)

About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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