Evening Sale

Live Virtual Auction, 28 May 2024

Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 456 838
Lot 107
  • Gerard Sekoto; Policeman Checking Papers, Paris
  • Gerard Sekoto; Policeman Checking Papers, Paris
  • Gerard Sekoto; Policeman Checking Papers, Paris

Lot Estimate
ZAR 200 000 - 300 000
VAT is charged on both hammer & premium for daggered lots
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 456 838

About this Item

South African 1913-1993
Policeman Checking Papers, Paris

signed and dated 60

oil on paper
30 by 48,5cm excluding frame; 48 by 66 by 3cm including frame


Art is a human virtue and I have given my whole self to it, for it promotes understanding among races rather than destroys it.

- Gerard Sekoto

In 1939 Gerard Sekoto left his teaching position in Pietersburg (now Polokwane), relocating to the vibrant and multiracial Sophiatown in Johannesburg to pursue a career as a painter. While in Sophiatown, ever-aware of the racial injustices around him, he produced a remarkable body of sensitive and gorgeously coloured vignettes of black urban life. During stays in District Six in Cape Town (1942–1945), and then in Eastwood, on the outskirts of Pretoria (1945– 1947), Sekoto continued to paint evocative and poignant domestic scenes that evoked a powerful sense of resilience and dignity. Dispirited by the socio-political conditions across the country, however, the artist went into exile in 1947, travelling to Paris, via London, never to return to his homeland.

While Paris brought the artist much joy – he lost himself in the city’s museums and jazz bars – he faced bouts of loneliness and struggled professionally without a strong support network. If his post-exile paintings were often tinged with nostalgia, he certainly never lost his keen sense of social observation. The present lot, painted in 1960, seems to show policeman stopping black citizens off a side street, while well-heeled Parisians get on with their everyday business on the main drag. The artist was clearly moved by this tragic irony and recorded the scene with great care. He made sure to highlight the contrast between the anxious poses of the black figures and the confident air of the policeman; each is surrounded by a shimmering blue halo.


Acquired from the artist circa 1961, and thence by descent.

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