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Robert Hodgins - People Watcher with a wicked sense of humour

  24 October 2012     Archived

Following the world record set in June, Strauss & Company are delighted to be offering a number of works by Robert Hodgins in the November auction.

Hodgins was well known and loved in both his guises – paintings lecturer at WITS and acclaimed South African artist. Honouring his legacy at WITS, the proceeds from the sale of one of the works are earmarked for WAM, the recently completed Wits Art Museum. Titled Lyric Suite (pre-sale estimate R500 000 – 700 000) this triptych is characteristic of Hodgins’ work in the bold use of colour and gives a nod to the unstructured figures of Francis Bacon. Embracing abstraction with figurative studies Hodgins bridges these with seeming ease.

A self-confessed people watcher, Robert Hodgins’ canvasses form a visual dialogue between subject and viewer. Economy of detail is only eclipsed by a confident application of colour and a wicked sense of humour when it came to the titling of a given work. He is quoted as having stated that “my paintings find the words, the words don’t find my paintings.”

Three Golems (pre-sale estimate R400 000 – 600 000), originating in Jewish folklore, explores the idea of amorphous entities devoid of speech, designed to serve man under controlled conditions but who turn on their makers under others. Formed from mud, a golem could be animated by writing the word emet (the Hebrew word for truth) on its forehead. It could then be deactivated by changing the inscription to met (death) ¹ .

Other oils include In the Conservatory (pre-sale estimate R200 000 – 300 000), an audacious composition dominated by a palette of lush emerald green, the boldly humorous Any Summer, Any Beach (pre-sale estimate R100 000 – 150 000) and Pregnant Woman (pre-sale estimate R250 000 – 350 000) inscribed with Hodgins’ possible titles for the work: ‘Oh no, not again! The end of the affaire, So (now) they tell me it's too late now to forget you; But all terribly frivolous'.

These pieces will come under the hammer on the 12 November 2012 at Strauss & Co’s auction to be held at the Johannesburg Country Club, Woodmead.


2012 Press Archive

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