Sun, 25th Mar 2018 18:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 131
Lot 131 - Peter Clarke (South African 1929-2014)


Peter Clarke (South African 1929-2014)

watercolour and gouache on paper

Artwork date: 1967
Signature details: signed and dated 11.1.1967; inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse

Sold for R431,984
Estimated at R250,000 - R350,000

Condition Report

Minor cockling, paper slightly oxidised, foxing along top left margin. Not examined out of frame, full report available on request.

Please note, we are not qualified conservators and these reports give our opinion as to the general condition of the works. We advise that bidders view the lots in person to satisfy themselves with the condition of prospective purchases.


watercolour and gouache on paper

Artwork date: 1967
Signature details: signed and dated 11.1.1967; inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse


54 x 44 cm


From around 1960, Peter Clarke began experimenting with stylisation in his work, flirting with the facetted forms of Cubism, although avoiding the palettes of Picasso and Braque who had favoured a restricted range of earth colours. The Bathers is particularly reminiscent of the light-filled paintings of Lionel Feininger, probably Clarke’s favourite Cubist, where crystalline facets create an effect reminiscent of stained glass windows. Clarke’s painting shares a similar luminosity, the delicate tones and fluidity of water-based paint evoking the transparency of the water. Broken into angular shapes of pale blues and greys, the painting mimics the refraction of light through water, a few shards of a warmer hue suggesting beach sand. The sea merges into the sky, sharing the same cool tones, and making it hard to identify the horizon line. The continuous surface flattens space, and distance is defined only by the tiny scale of a far-off figure.Two bathers occupy the scene, the nearer one bending over, perhaps to view his own reflection like a Narcissus, while the distant figure has arms raised in a pose dating back to bathers of antiquity, Venus lifting her arms to wring out her hair. But Clarke is not creating some imagined Golden Age: this is drawn from his own experience. He often portrayed naked boys on the beach that recalled the carefree days of his childhood. But here he set himself a testing exercise in composition, unifying the faceted forms. The linear contours of the predominantly horizontal planes of the water are balanced by the verticals of a jetty. Even the foreground youth is angular, his back bent flat to parallel the lines of the water, his limbs echoing the wooden uprights. Clarke’s confident skill makes the carefully thought-out forms seem effortless, creating a harmonious vision of translucent light and limpid colour.

Elizabeth Rankin

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 25th Mar 2018

Aspire Art Auctions brought a unique offering to their second auction in the Cape allowing buyers to add quality and rarity to their collections.

Headlining the success of the auction was as a rare intaglio by Alexis Preller, Gold Angel (Arêté), which sold for R4 638 400. The piece was part of Preller’s last body of work shown at the Goodman Gallery in 1975, and took its place alongside the sale of his mid-period work, the exquisite small study Still life with Vase and Carved Head, which sold for R811 720. Other auction highlights included work by contemporary artists Robert Hodgins, Athi-Patra Ruga, Zander Blom, and Penny Siopis and sculpture by Deborah Bell, Willem Boshoff, Wim Botha, and Amadlozi alumnus Sydney Kumalo.


Friday 23 March 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 24 March 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 25 March 2018 | 10 am – 3 pm

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Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R400

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R800

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