Live Virtual Auction, 7 - 8 November 2021

Sold for

ZAR 1 365 600
Lot 194
  • Douglas Portway; Abstract Composition in Blue
  • Douglas Portway; Abstract Composition in Blue
  • Douglas Portway; Abstract Composition in Blue
  • Douglas Portway; Abstract Composition in Blue
  • Douglas Portway; Abstract Composition in Blue

Lot Estimate
ZAR 200 000 - 300 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium and VAT
ZAR 1 365 600

About this Item

South African 1922-1993
Abstract Composition in Blue
signed and dated 73; inscribed with the artist's name on a label adhered to the reverse
oil on canvas
122 by 122cm excluding frame; 125 by 125,5 by 4,5cm including frame


‘Douglas Portway’s stay in St Ives incited him to a great number of compositions in which strict geometric shapes make their appearance, as if Portway had imbibed the tradition of [Naum] Gabo, [Ben] Nicholson, [Barbara] Hepworth, in order to test the other side of artistic experience rather than to follow the genius loci. This becomes clear when one compares one of Ben Nicholson’s early constructivist compositions with on of Portway’s works [such as the present lot]. Ben Nicholson’s conception, masterly as it is and clear to the mind as a geometric statement or a logical deduction, is executed with an amazing exactness and definiteness. Douglas Portway’s painting, on the other hand documents the circulation of the blood in a warm body, it is a pulsating event, an emotional evidence of that realm of experience which has its roots in the undefinable. So we have on the one hand a mathematical equation as if by Euclid and on the other a mystical statement as of an Eckhart. Both are human but the one is produced by the brain and tastes exclusively aesthetic, the other by the perceiving hand.’1
1. JP Hodin (1983) Douglas Portway: A Painter’s Life, Philadelphia: The Art Alliance Press, page 72.

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