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.”

  • Cecil Skotnes; Conversation
  • Cecil Skotnes; Conversation

Lot Estimate
ZAR 500 000 - 700 000

About this Item

South African 1926-2009

signed and dated 72; inscribed with the artist's name, title, and date on an artist's label adhered to the reverse

acrylic on incised panel
120,5 by 121,5 by 5cm, unframed


The large engraved and painted panels Conversations (lot 63) and Coastal Gathering (lot 64), made more than 25 years apart, expose Cecil Skotnes’ preoccupation with the human figure and reflect both continuity and change in his work over time. The two youthful figures of the earlier panel, bathed in the light of the highveld and the colours of its oxidic soils, are engaged in animated conversation, speaking to both the heart and the head. The figures, one woman, one man, are painted in acrylic but mixed with powdered pigments directly mined from the earth. They are drawn together, freed from anything around them, luminous and tender. In the later panel, the figures become more abstract. They are crowded together, huddled, less in the landscape than a part of it. They are entombed, ancestral, as if the very soil is anthropic. Some are spectral. They appear to stand at the edge of the continent. The coast was a place of encounters, between travellers and those they encountered. It is also a place of longing and Skotnes’ final home. These figures are embraced by the land but gaze out at the sea and the unimaginable things that lie beyond it.

—Pippa Skotnes, 2022


Bonham's, London, 10 September 2008, lot 422.

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection.

View all Cecil Skotnes lots for sale in this auction

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