Important South African and International Art, Decorative Arts & Jewellery

including Paintings from the Labia Family Collection and the Late Peter and Regina Strack Collection

Cape Town  |  10:30am Mon 15 Oct 2018

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Robert Hodgins; Predators
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Lot 606

South African 1920-2010
Predators
signed, dated 2005, inscribed with the medium and 'One Third of a Trio entitled: Predators' on the reverse

 
oil on canvas
90 by 90cm excluding frame

Sold for R 800 000
Including Buyer's Premium and VAT R 910 400

Estimate R 500 000 - 700 000


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The present lot by Robert Hodgins portrays a solitary figure with oblong-shaped head in what appears to be an interior space. Hodgins effortlessly disrupts the figure-ground relationship in his composition by having the horizontal band of white that bisects the painting at its midpoint form part of the figure – it abruptly separates cumulous blue head and body. Despite its solitary subject the composition has a plural title. The lot forms part of a series of three, differently-sized paintings entitled Predators 1, 2 and 3; the series was not a triptych. Hodgins was determined to comment on instances of financial predation with this series.1 The garment worn by the figure is a key element in identifying Hodgins’ aspiration. While not an orthodox business suit, the garment is nonetheless consistent with a number of works by Hodgins in which male figures wearing striped suits are used as vehicles for his trenchant social commentary. A pronounced feature of his paintings from the 1990s, Hodgins began using vertical lines of colour to denote the professional class of his portrait subjects in the early 1980s. His habit of developing a “big mess” of colours into “this evil, smiling guy” was rooted in a personal article of faith: “I don’t find the human race very honourable,” said Hodgins in 2008. “I wouldn’t say I’m sorry for them, but I do faintly have enough of the dishonest in me to understand how they get there.”2 Sean O’Toole 

  1. Correspondence with Neil Dundas, Goodman Gallery, 1 August 2018.
  2. Kathryn Smith (2012). “Some General Rules: Roberts Hodgins in Conversation with Kathryn Smith,” in A Lasting Impression, Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Pages 122 and 130.

Purchased by the current owner from the Goodman Gallery circa 2003.


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