Strauss & Co auction celebrates the heritage and global impact of Eastern Cape artists

28 Jun 2024

Cape Town – Strauss & Co, Africa’s leading auction house, is thrilled to announce its upcoming July online-only ART auction, which includes a special focus on the Eastern Cape and its strong tradition of landscape painting. Opening for bidding on Monday, 1 July, the four-part auction presents collectors with an opportunity to acquire exceptional pieces by influential Eastern Cape painters Brian Bradshaw and Robert Brooks, as well as bid on pieces by Hylton Nel and Athi-Patra Ruga, globally renowned artists shaped by the Eastern Cape and recently celebrated by luxury brand Dior.

This is the third edition of Strauss & Co’s Eastern Cape-themed auction, highlighting the profound influence of the region on South Africa’s artistic landscape. Spearheaded by Senior Art Specialist Ian Hunter, this auction continues to honour the rich cultural heritage and artistic contributions stemming from this historically significant area.

“The Eastern Cape helped form some of South Africa’s most prolific artists and authors. It is a region close to my heart – its struggle history, distinct landscapes, and rich indigenous culture contributed so much to our artistic and literary canon,” says Ian Hunter.

“Our Eastern Cape focus on landscape in our July ART online-only auction stems largely from the fact that many of the artists in the sale trained under Brian Bradshaw and his students, who became lecturers at Rhodes University in Makanda,” says Ian Hunter, Senior Specialist, Strauss & Co. “Historically, this art school’s identity was strongly rooted in landscape painting and the often-monumental works produced by its key exponents who typically feature expressionistic colour palettes and bold brushwork.”

Adds Ian Hunter, “The sale commemorates Robert Brooks, head of the art school at Rhodes University from 1981 until 1997, who recently passed. Brooks was one of the most creative painters of his generation and a mentor to a great number of artists who benefited from his unique approach to art making. His paintings fuse observation and imagination within a dynamic visual interpretation that questions and delights the senses of the viewer, inviting them to share the artist’s vision.”

Strauss & Co is offering key paintings by Brian Bradshaw and Robert Brooks, as well as paintings by Carl Becker, Hilary Graham, Noel Hodnett, Estelle Marais and Joss Nel. Photographs by Obie Oberholzer, another dynamic force at the art school at Rhodes University, will appear along with works by Ben Coutouvidis, Jackie Griffiths-Jones, Jacobus Kloppers, Cathy Layzell, Nigel Mullins, Herman Niebuhr, Albert Redelinghuys and Helen Timm.

Strauss & Co’s July ART auction is divided into four distinct sessions: Art Club, A Tapestry of Eastern Cape Landscapes, Impression/Expression and Re/View. Details of each session are as follows:

Session 1: Art Club

This session offers a collection of works that reflect the expertise and discerning eye of Strauss & Co’s team of specialists. Highlights include works by Paul Blomkamp, Johan Louw, Caryn Scrimgeour and Lionel Smit.

Session 2: A Tapestry of Eastern Cape Landscape

In addition to the aforementioned list of acclaimed artists associated with the art school at Rhodes University, the line-up includes a large-scale photograph by Athi-Patra Ruga and sculptural works by ceramic artist-potter Hylton Nel and his protégé Nico Masemola. Both Nel and Ruga have collaborated with Luxury brand Dior, Ruga in 2019 on a handbag, and Nel in June 2024 on Dior’s spring-summer 2025 menswear collection. Other notable consignments include three remarkable soft sculptures of aloes, constructed of felt and thread offers, by the Keiskamma Art Project, and two figural sculptures by Gqeberha master sculptor Anton Momberg. A rare oil painting by Betsy Fordyce portrays Durban harbour.

Session 3: Impression/Expression

This regular session devoted to the two defining stylistic traditions influencing South African painting includes work by Harold Voigt, Larry Scully, Gregoire Boonzaier, J.H. Pierneef and Pranas Domsaitis.

Session 4: Re/View

Highlights from this session devoted to notable works previously offered by Strauss & Co includes noteworthy pieces by Adrian Boshoff and Pieter Wenning.

On Tuesday, 2 July, Strauss & Co will host another instalment of its bimonthly outreach programme Art Club at its Cape Town showroom.  Senior specialist Ian Hunter will deliver a captivating lecture on the vibrant Eastern Cape landscape and the profound influence of local artists. Following the lecture, join Henrietta Dax, owner of Cape Town’s oldest bookstore Clarke’s Bookshop. Dax will share stories from her collection of ceramics by longtime friend Hylton Nel and their recent trip to Kim Jones’ latest Dior collection in Paris, influenced by Nel’s work whose whimsical charm and cultural depth continue to inspire. Hosted by writer Nkgopoleng Moloi, the evening is a celebration of enduring narratives told through art.

Works for sale in the online-only art auction can be viewed from Monday, 1 July to Monday, 8 July, during working hours, 9am to 5pm, Brickfield Canvas, 35 Brickfield Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.


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