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Hodgins' Favourite Scheduled for Strauss & Co Auction

  10 March 2015     Archived

This was Hodgins' favourite painting. It was borrowed from the owner for Hodgins to enjoy and display in his home until his death when it was returned to the owner.

Lot 617 Porn King
Lot 617 Robert Hodgins 'The Porn King' R500 000 - 700 000

The Porn King, an early Hodgins painting reliably thought to have been produced in the mid-1980s, comes with a remarkable if anecdotal commendation in its provenance. Discovering he was suffering from a terminal cancer, painter Robert Hodgins borrowed the work back from the person who had bought it from him. Citing The Porn King as one of his personal favourites among the several thousands of paintings he made over the decades, the artist said he wanted to be able to look at it until he died, at which time the work would be returned.

Coming up now at auction, it is not difficult to intuit just why Hodgins was thus umbilically attached to this portrait of slickened sleaze. The full face image of a thick-necked but impeccably groomed blond man, whose face seems to lurk somewhere behind the possibly detachable mask that is his physiognomy, The Porn King is both satirical and sinister in the range of near expressions that swim in and out of focus in the abstract play of paint where our reflexes of recognition want to find a human face. The Porn King is available and distant, he is sensual and calculating, never quite where the viewer wants to find some human clue to the apperception of a shared or critical humanity beyond the well-trained lines of hair on a carefully groomed presentation head.

Ghosting through the background is dirty wall, a palimpsest of graffiti painted over but not quite erased with names scratched into the plaster that hint of love and oranges … never specific, but undercutting the illusion of propriety that the Porn King seeks to project as does the single dirty knob of an ear affixed at right angles to the head.

Important South African & International Art, Decorative Arts & Jewellery
Monday 16 March 2015 Evening Sale
Venue: The Vineyard Hotel, Newlands, Cape Town
Preview: Friday 13 to Sunday 15 March 10am to 5pm
Walkabouts conducted by Stephan Welz and Emma Bedford: Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 March at 11:00am

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