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 68 280
Lot 86
  • Fred Page; Untitled
  • Fred Page; Untitled
  • Fred Page; Untitled

Lot Estimate
ZAR 60 000 - 80 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 68 280

About this Item

South African 1908-1984

signed and dated '61

oil on board
70 by 55cm excluding frame; 85 by 70 by 4cm including frame


Fred Page endured a miserable childhood marked by fatherly abandonment and the death of his mother when he was ten. He drifted between relatives and orphanages before entering a farming trade school; thereafter variously jobbing as a shepherd, barman, gold miner, tyre maker at Firestone and military serviceman. In 1947, aged 39, Page entered art school in Port Elizabeth. Tutored by Jack Heath and Dorothy Kay, his drafting capabilities were given focus. He held his debut solo in 1958 at age 51. Page is well known for his austere and unsentimental compositions depicting architectural features of the Central and South End - historical suburbs of Port Elizabeth. The Powell Collection, however, focuses on his category-defying
fantasy works, notably works in oil. Early on Page settled on a reduced palette of black, white and matt ochre. In 1967, he switched from tempera to quick-drying acrylics and inks, and only occasionally worked in oil. “Colour activates the picture and that I don’t want,” Page said in 1971. “I want silence and stillness.”1
Page admired the technique of painters William Blake, Caspar David Friedrich and René Magritte, but derived creative inspiration for his dreamlike scenarios from literature – notably Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allen Poe. “If I had to state a definite ambition in my painting, I think it would be to emulate the literary achievements of these men to the highest degree possible within the limited sphere of my own media and abilities”.2 Although frequently characterised as a surrealist, his work more closely resembles the theatricality of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings. Jeanne Wright persuasively argues that his psychological work is “an idiosyncratic form of magical realism overlaid with parochial and autobiographical details from his
personal environment.”3

1. Jeanne Wright and Cecil Kerbel (2011) Fred Page: Ringmaster of the Imagination, Port Elizabeth: Jeanne Wright and Cecil Kerbel,page 60.
2. Ibid, page 126.
3. Ibid, page 82.


Die Kunskamer, Cape Town, 3 May 2006.

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection.


Welgemeend Art Month, Cape Town, Herken/Verken: Paying Homage to Die Kunskamer, the gallery that changed the course of South African Art, 5 to 31 August 2022.

View all Fred Page lots for sale in this auction

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