The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection

Live Virtual Auction, 20 September 2022

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection
About the Session

Strauss & Co is pleased to present this extraordinary collection as the featured session this September Live Virtual Auction. An established insolvency practitioner with a passion for the arts, Oliver Powell's principal focus has been collecting South African painting, sculpture and works on paper made since 1950. Colour, graphic ingenuity and emotional weight are all attributes in an artwork that Powell is drawn to. Powell also emphasises the importance of his many encounters with artists. “There is so much value in meeting an artist,” says Powell. “Aspects and details of their life are reflected in what and how they paint.”


Sold for

ZAR 432 440
Lot 28
  • Robert Hodgins; Twenty Pedestrians
  • Robert Hodgins; Twenty Pedestrians
  • Robert Hodgins; Twenty Pedestrians


Lot Estimate
ZAR 300 000 - 400 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 432 440

About this Item

South African 1920-2010
Twenty Pedestrians

signed, dated 2004, inscribed with the artist's name and title on the reverse

oil on canvas
90 by 60cm excluding frame; 95 by 65 by 4cm including frame

Notes

"Most of the pedestrians are entrapped by their past, which trails behind them like streamers. Accordingly the motion of the arm of the centrally placed militarist (does his size denote his social standing?) suggests the pulling of a firearm. He is caught up by his past, which not only dehumanises him but also turns him into a figurehead, an automaton"1

Elza Miles

“The title of this work, Twenty Pedestrians, offers a useful point of entry into Hodgins’ work. Typically, this work is characterised by its humour and indeterminacy. The first attribute might be self-evident but nonetheless deserves emphasis. Twenty Pedestrians bears out what artist Sue Williamson once described as Hodgins’ ‘casual authority’ – that remarkable lightness of touch and deftness of expression. The title itself offers an invitation to the viewer to become viscerally engaged with the work before anything else, to indulge in the simple arithmetic pleasure of counting all 20 pedestrians scattered across the canvas. Getting it wrong, having to recount all the lines (for legs) and blurs (for bodies) neatly leads to the second, possibly more fundamental insight regarding Hodgins’ work - his ambiguous gesture. The critic Ivor Powell offers this astute and relevant summary: ‘His work characteristically hangs in a precarious and unstable balance between the abstract and expressive life of the paint on one side and the volatile suggestion of representation on the other.’ Hodgins’ almost naive expressionistic flourishes seduce the eye, suggesting rather than depicting what the title refers to: twenty pedestrians. The portly figure at the centre of the painting, dressed in red, reminds us of a stock motif in Hodgins’ work. Since the early 1980s he has ceaselessly reworked playwright Alfred Jarry’s fictional character, Pere Ubu. Clownish and overweight, Hodgins here suggestively clothes the figure in military garb. Head pompously raised, this selfimportant figure is also literally too big for his boots. Set against a flat, albeit interrupted picture-plane, Hodgins uses horizontal line here to evoke movement, his painting a fleeting record of a barely formulated moment in time.”2

—Sean O’Toole

1. Elza Miles in Sean O’Toole (ed) (2006) Between Foothold and Flight, catalogue number 3, Johannesburg: Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, page 5.
2. Sean O’Toole (ed) (2006) Between Foothold and Flight, catalogue number 3, Johannesburg: Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, page 107.

Provenance

Graham's Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg, 13 July 2006.

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection.

Literature

Sean O'Toole (ed) (2006) Between Foothold and Flight, catalogue number 3, Johannesburg: Graham's Fine Art Gallery, pages 5 and 107, illustrated in colour on page 108 and detail on page 5.

View all Robert Hodgins lots for sale in this auction



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