Important South African & International Art, Decorative Arts & Jewellery

Live Auction, 16 March 2015

Important South African and International Art Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 909 440
Lot 617
  • Robert Hodgins; The Porn King

Lot Estimate
ZAR 500 000 - 700 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 909 440

About this Item

South African 1920-2010
The Porn King
oil on board
62,5 by 52,5cm excluding frame


This was Hodgins' favourite painting.  It was borrowed from the owner for Hodgins to enjoy and display in his home until his death when it was returned to the owner.

The Porn King, an early Hodgins painting reliably thought to have been produced in the mid-1980s, comes with a remarkable if anecdotal commendation in its provenance. Discovering he was suffering from a terminal cancer, painter Robert Hodgins borrowed the work back from the person who had bought it from him. Citing The Porn King as one of his personal favourites among the several thousands of paintings he made over the decades, the artist said he wanted to be able to look at it until he died, at which time the work would be returned.

Coming up now at auction, it is not difficult to intuit just why Hodgins was thus umbilically attached to this portrait of slickened sleaze. The full face image of a thick-necked but impeccably groomed blond man, whose face seems to lurk somewhere behind the possibly detachable mask that is his physiognomy, The Porn King is both satirical and sinister in the range of near expressions that swim in and out of focus in the abstract play of paint where our reflexes of recognition want to find a human face. The Porn King is available and distant, he is sensual and calculating, never quite where the viewer wants to find some human clue to the apperception of a shared or critical humanity beyond the well-trained lines of hair on a carefully groomed presentation head.

Ghosting through the background is dirty wall, a palimpsest of graffiti painted over but not quite erased with names scratched into the plaster that hint of love and oranges … never specific, but undercutting the illusion of propriety that the Porn King seeks to project as does the single dirty knob of an ear affixed at right angles to the head.

View all Robert Hodgins lots for sale in this auction

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