Live Virtual Auction, 11 - 13 April 2021

Gerard Sekoto; The Gossips
Lot 570

Lot Estimate
R 700 000 - 800 000
Current Bid
Starting at R 600 000
Cape Town Office
Condition Report
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About this Item

South African 1913-1993
The Gossips
signed and dated 45
watercolour on paper
32.5 by 36.5cm excluding frame


Gerard Sekoto settled in Cape Town in 1942. The support and appreciation he received over the next three years resulted in the production of “a steady stream of important work” including this watercolour.1 Like other painters of the thirties generation, notably Gerard Bhengu and George Pemba, Sekoto first worked with watercolour before switching to oil. He discovered the medium – “to my great delight,” stated Sekoto – while teaching at Khaiso Secondary School in Pietersburg.2 This limpid and notational medium was suited to Sekoto’s observational style of painting and fondness for depicting small groups of friends and intimates either drinking or gossiping. This lot showcases his flair at describing the essentials of an encounter: a raised hand, a turned head, rapt engagement. Gossiping, with its suggestion of community and benign scandal, remained an important subject for Sekoto after he forsook watercolour. In his diaries, Pemba writes how Sekoto had dissuaded him from using watercolours: “South Africans prefer solid paint and effective colour.”3 Notable later works in this style include the oil Village Gossip (1946), now in the collection of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, as well as a series of nostalgic oils depicting huddled groups painted in Paris in 1970.

1.  N. Chabani Manganyi (2004) Gerard Sekoto: I am an African. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, page 40.

2.  Joe Dolby (2005) Gerard Sekoto: From the Paris Studio. Cape Town: Iziko South African National Gallery, page 4.

3.  Lauren Segal & Paul Holden (2008) Great Lives: Pivotal Moments. Johannesburg: Jacana, page 100.


Abram Kesler, and thence by descent to the current owner.


Barbara Lindop (1988) Gerard Sekoto, Randburg: Dictum Publishing, illustrated in colour on page 115.

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