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 739 700
Lot 910
  • Robert Hodgins; Girl at a Window
  • Robert Hodgins; Girl at a Window
  • Robert Hodgins; Girl at a Window
  • Robert Hodgins; Girl at a Window
  • Robert Hodgins; Girl at a Window
  • Robert Hodgins; Girl at a Window


Lot Estimate
ZAR 700 000 - 900 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 739 700

About this Item

South African 1920-2010
Girl at a Window

signed, dated 1997/8 and inscribed with the title and 'the artist's private collection' on the reverse

oil on canvas
122 by 91cm excluding frame; 135 by 104 by 5cm including frame

Notes

This large canvas depicting a naked figure in a window rehearses many of the formal and thematic concerns that occupied Robert Hodgins during his later career. The lumpy pink figure at the centre of the composition epitomises his unflattering approach to the human form. A woman rather than a girl, his figure is redolent of numerous indelicately rendered female protagonists (including Tart, shown at the South African National Gallery in 1986), but also shares affinities with various older naked male figures. This ambiguity pervades the setting of his painting. The central figure occupies a recess within a band of purplish blue flanked on each side by wedges of black; further stripes of yellow and coral pink add to the verticality. Notwithstanding his figurative persuasions, Hodgins frequently rendered architectural space as a rudimentary choreography of bold colours. Sometimes additional line work locates the action in some or other interior or exterior setting. Is this an urban vista? Are the George Grosz-like male figures at bottom kerbside patrons? It is possible that the scene dramatises aspects of the artist’s early London biography, when he worked as a factotum for a newsagent in Soho. His labours included delivering magazines to sex workers in their parlours. Commenting on the recurrence of these formative experiences in his late-career paintings, Hodgins in 2007 remarked: ‘It isn’t called up, but I suddenly recognise it – a Soho street, a Soho prostitute.’1 Hodgins, though, was not a social realist painter. ‘What interests me is a sense of the incongruity of the way we all live together in this world,’ he said in 1984, at the start of his revival as a painter. ‘One is in a way trying to find a metaphor for the wonder and horror of a world in which terrible things and beautiful things exist together.’2

1. Interview with artist by Sean O’Toole, November 2007, Menlo Park, Pretoria.
2. Ivor Powell (1984) ‘One of My Own Fragments: An interview with Robert Hodgins’, De Arte 31, page 42.

 

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