Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Jewellery and Fine Wine

Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art Part II

Sold for

ZAR 512 100
Lot 837
  • Robert Hodgins; Samurai
  • Robert Hodgins; Samurai
  • Robert Hodgins; Samurai
  • Robert Hodgins; Samurai
  • Robert Hodgins; Samurai

Lot Estimate
ZAR 450 000 - 550 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 512 100

About this Item

South African 1920-2010

signed, dated 1996 and inscribed with the artist's name, the title and the medium on the reverse

oil on canvas laid down on board
62 by 75cm excluding frame; 79 by 94,5 by 5cm including frame


Samurai, 1986, encapsulates Robert Hodgins’s mastery of the figurative, of colour, complex visual and emotional subject matter and his preferred medium of expression, painting.

Three years prior to painting Samurai, Hodgins, at the age of 63, left teaching to became a full-time artist, and with his keen observation of life, great vigour, wit and energy, produced a compelling body of work over the following almost three decades.

For Hodgins, the rapacious male figure in authority is a recurring subject, whether it’s Alfred Jarry’s Ubu, a pin-striped businessman, politician, military man, or, as in this case, a warrior from pre-modern Japan, a samurai.

Hodgins melds ‘innumerable conflicting elements that communicate beyond the rules of the visual’.1 The apparently omnipotent warrior is theatrically set against a plane of flaming red, gold and orange hues alluding to beauty, power and destructiveness. In contrast to the typically hyper masculine samurai, here he is rendered in shades of dusky and pale pink and comes across as pasty and weak while sandwiched impotently between the radiant physical presence of the somewhat androgynous headless figure and the blood red hands of a child poignantly reaching out for protection. The warrior responds by pointing a phallic first finger upwards towards the prison-like window, while his hybrid predator– human face seems to be remonstrating with the symbolically charged gleaming gold and blue sword.

Brenda Atkinson (2002) ‘New Loves, Old Affairs’, in Brenda Atkinson, Robert Hodgins, Cape Town: Tafelberg, page 13.


Everard Read, Johannesburg.

Private Collection, Johannesburg.

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