Important South African and International Art, Decorative Arts & Jewellery

Cape Town  |  10:30am Mon 5 Mar 2018


Select a Session

Go to Lot

Breyten Breytenbach; From the Heart's Song
Click on the image to zoom

Lot 508

South African 1939-
From the Heart's Song
signed, dated 2001 and inscribed "ê kissie keise fani jille gabiet fan boegegipte toet byfatoem eks seilknakwind oo wegholkind poespetaljer talltrommmeltarrentaal wegkaknôk seilholnol so deedielewe vedodedoem enniksing vijille myhart silliet"
mixed media on cardboard
100 by 75cm excluding frame

Sold for R 90 000
Including Buyer's Premium and VAT R 102 312

Estimate R 50 000 - 70 000

Click here to view all the results
Request a Condition Report


Best known for his lyrical poetry and his erstwhile political activism, Breyten Breytenbach is also an accomplished fine artist in his own right. He has mounted exhibitions all over the world and his paintings appear on most of his poetry anthologies. Occasionally, however, he combines his poems and his paintings into one new art work, such as in the case of the present lot. "Painted words are nothing else but meaningful images", he once said. One such example is Boekdoek/Lappasait, exhibited at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, in the Netherlands. Words and images are combined in ten elongated pieces of fabric, referencing Tibetan paper prayers, mandalas with formulas and figures used for meditation purposes, as well as Chinese scrolls, often depicting landscapes and by implication, travels, with poems written in fine calligraphy. These pieces of fabric can easily be rolled up and unfurled at any new site the poet wanted to camp out next. They essentially serve as textbooks or roadmaps or even an inventory of his whole life.

The present lot, a self-portrait, is another telling example of his practice of combining word and image. Words spring directly from his heart: he proclaims himself as emperor of the whole of North Africa, from upper Egypt to Faiyum in middle-Egypt. This portrait, incidentally, references the famous Faiyum funereal portrait tradition. This braggart, however, is of course just making fun of a gullible reader/viewer; he is essentially a poet, a word artist, a ‘’catcher of the elusive wind’’, enjoying word puns, alliteration and assonance that any language enables a creative person to invent. He is also the prodigal son, returning from voluntary exile, an outsider speaking in a Cape Flat vernacular, rather than the standard Afrikaans. Only one poem ‘’Koong Byten 1’’ in his latest anthology, The Wind Catcher (2007) has a similar subject matter and is also composed in this vernacular. In this poem he unashamedly declares himself ‘’King of Paradise’’.

Breytenbach lures the reader/viewer into saying the words out aloud, into repeating this mantra, straight from his heart, with him and in this manner, the reader/viewer becomes part of the art work itself and completes the creative process that Breytenbach has set in motion.

Other lots that might interest you

Irma Stern; Portrait of a Woman in a Yellow Dress
Lot 547
Irma Stern
Portrait of a Woman in a Yellow Dress

R 280 000 - 340 000
Carl Büchner; The Young Clown
Lot 450
Carl Büchner
The Young Clown

R 35 000 - 50 000
Lionel Smit; Morphous Maquette
Lot 633
Lionel Smit
Morphous Maquette

R 80 000 - 120 000
Robert Hodgins; Pretty Boy Floyd
Lot 520
Robert Hodgins
Pretty Boy Floyd

R 30 000 - 50 000
Carl Büchner; Portrait of a Young Man
Lot 448
Carl Büchner
Portrait of a Young Man

R 25 000 - 35 000
Michael Pettit; Amanda
Lot 458
Michael Pettit

R 30 000 - 50 000