Mon, 17th Jul 2017 17:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 151
Lot 151 - Kenneth Bakker (South Africa 1926-1988)


Kenneth Bakker (South Africa 1926-1988)
Geostructure No. 32

relief construction

Artwork date: 1969
Signature details: signed and dated; signed, inscribed with the title and ‘Simonstown’ on the reverse

Sold for R68,208
Estimated at R50,000 - R80,000

Condition Report

Minor surface dirt, otherwise good.

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.


relief construction

Artwork date: 1969
Signature details: signed and dated; signed, inscribed with the title and ‘Simonstown’ on the reverse


145 x 124.5 cm


Kenneth Bakker was born in Cape Town in 1926, and lived in Simon’s Town until his death in 1988. A student of the lauded Erik Laubscher, between 1950 and 1952 at the Contemporary School of Art in Cape Town, the artist is known for his innovative and evocative works of abstraction.The development of abstraction, new techniques and the experimental spirit of the post-War years, lead to fundamental changes in the general nature of artistic expression in South Africa.Geostructure No.32 and Relief Construction No. 27 are poignant examples from two distinct periods in the artist’s career when he was most interested in the physical properties and possibilities inherent in the medium of paint.Like many of the practitioners of abstraction in South Africa during this time, Bakker was primarily drawn to organic forms and the landscape, finding his source material from the natural world around him. In the course of the early 1950s to the late 1960s, Bakker completed a numbered collection of relief paintings in the Geostructure series. Geostructure No.32 is characteristic of his paintings from this period. Referencing geophysical allusions, the artist employed and combined effects of painterly illusion and sculptural augmentation by applying scumbled layers of oil paint in layers, and incorporating sculptural media like gesso to create cavernous formations of extraordinary space and depth.Rarely straying from a neutral, earth-toned palette in his work, Bakker moved on to a significantly more streamlined and constructed aesthetic in the 1970s. Political sanctions were at their strongest during this time, and South African artists experienced what Hazel Friedman describes as a “cultural ostracism”[1]. While in Europe and Northern America artists were beginning their forays into minimalism and conceptual art, many South African artists continued to pursue abstraction and abstract expressionism. Within this socio-cultural context, Bakker created Relief Construction No. 27, a rigid development from his tactile paintings of the 1960s.Mechanical in character, depth is created by a multi-tiered surface of overlapping sheets of Perspex. Each sheet scored with geometrical linear designs. Relief Construction No. 27 is particularly curious as it bears references to the formal language of the artist’s earlier works, but deviates to synthesize painted and apparent manufactured elements, such as its central disc and speaker-like feature in the centre of the work, creating a complex optical effect.Kenneth Bakker was the first South Africa artist to receive an award at the São Paulo Bienal in 1963. His works are currently housed in many of South Africa’s major collections, including the Iziko South African National Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, SANLAM Art Collection, and the collection of the WITS Art Museum. Bakker’s oeuvre endures a compelling contribution to the canon of South African painting.

Amie Soudien


[1] Friedman, Hazel. 2011. Beauty, Duty and Dissidence: Ideology and art in the heyday of apartheid in van Robbroeck, L. (ed) “Visual Century, South African Art in Context, volume two 1945 - 1976”. Wits University Press, Johannesburg

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Mon, 17th Jul 2017

Aspire Art Auctions’ second Johannesburg sale offered a selection of some of the best works produced by local and international artists available on the local market. Offerings included Cameroonian-born, Belgium-based, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Chilean, Eugenio Dittborn, and South Africans, William Kentridge, Kendell Geers, Louis Maqhubela, Cecil Skotnes, Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern, and Mohau Modisakeng, amongst others.

The sale was led by an international auction record of R1 200 320 achieved for a drawing, Children under Apartheid, by exiled South African artist Dumile Feni, as well as the successful sale of top international lot Golden Mask by renowned performance artist Marina Abramović. 


Friday 14 July 2017 | 10 am – 7 pm
Saturday 15 July 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 16 July 2017 | 10 am – 4 pm

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