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About this Item
Douglas Portway’s White Globe (1967) and Orange T (1965), both seminal works, constitute milestones in the artist’s career. The former is a brilliant synthesis of the abstract expressionist influences on his work, most notably by the Mexican artist, Rufino Tamayo, and the Chinese-French artist, Zao-Wou-Ki. Portway first encountered Tamayo’s work on a study tour to the US sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1952 and, after he moved to Europe in 1957, he saw Zao-Wou-Ki’s work in Paris and later in the UK in 1959. The latter work, Orange T, possibly done after Portway met Louis Maqhubela in 1967, is one of the first examples of Portway’s work that bears scratchy, calligraphic forms and shapes (notably in the upper part of the picture plane), an artistic feature introduced to him by Maqhubela. Stick-like figures are also a feature of the work of Swiss-German artist, Paul Klee, an artist whose work both Portway and Maqhubela revered. Typical of Portway’s work, both paintings centre on a focal point (the globe and the T in these two cases), a fulcrum around which swelling, cloud-like masses dissolve into voids of infinite nothingness.
Bonhams, London, 24 March 2010, lot 76.
Johans Borman Fine Art, Cape Town.