31st Oct, 2016 20:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 17
Lot 17 - Gerard Sekoto (South Africa 1913-1993)


Gerard Sekoto (South Africa 1913-1993)
Senegalese dancers

gouache on paper

Artwork date: 1967
Signature details: signed and dated

Sold for R204,624
Estimated at R100,000 - R150,000


gouache on paper

Artwork date: 1967
Signature details: signed and dated


53.5 x 36 cm


Widely recognised as the pioneer of black South African art and social realism, Gerard Sekoto was born in Botshabelo, a German Lutheran Mission Station near Middelburg in what was then the Transvaal in 1913 – the year in which the notorious Natives Land Act was introduced to South Africa. Despite the struggles of being a black artist living in South Africa, Sekoto managed to forge a reputation for himself during his early years in Sophiatown (Johannesburg), District Six (Cape Town) and Eastwood (Pretoria) respectively. But with the encouragement of fellow artists, like Lippy Lipshitz and Ernest Mancoba, he left South Africa on the Carnarvon Castle in 1947 bound first for London, then Paris, where he remained, in self-imposed exile, until his death in 1993.

Both of these paintings evidence his lifelong connection to the spirit, nature, people, culture and forms of Africa. Sekoto’s mingling with fellow exiles inspired a keen interest in and involvement with various pan-African movements. In 1966, he was invited by Leopold Senghor, President of Senegal and famed African poet, to exhibit at the ‘First Festival of Negro Arts’. He travelled with his friend Tiberio Wilson, a Brazilian artist, and the two stayed and worked in Dakar and the village of Casamance until 1967 when Sekoto was called back to Paris by his life partner Marthe Baillon, who had fallen ill. Dancing Women was painted during this period, and celebrates the beauty and vitality of Senegalese culture. In the brightly patterned cloths worn by the dancers and the energetically painted blue sky tinged with bright light, one senses the artist’s rediscovered pleasure in the heat and colour of his native continent.

The figurative expressionism and dynamism of this work is also strongly evident in a later work in oils, entitled Trees. The flowing lines and prismatic patterns in Sekoto’s rendering of the trees makes them appear distinctly animate, as if they too might be dancers on the plains. The interplay of line and colour in both of these works is strikingly musical, as was Sekoto himself. He was introduced to the harmonium at an early age and could play several instruments. During his years in Paris, he earned a living as pianist in a nightclub called L’echelle Jacob (Jacob’s Ladder) which opened for business after the Second World War. Music was central to his life and art.

Alexaxandra Dodd


Reid, C. (2013). The Artist: Sekoto’s Life. The Gerard Sekoto Foundation, [online] Available at: http://www.gerardsekotofoundation.com [Accessed: 26 Aug. 2016].

South African History Online (2016). Jan Gerard Sekoto. [online] Available at: http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/jan-gerard-sekoto [Accessed: 26 Aug. 2016].

BBC (2013) In pictures: Gerard Sekoto – father of South Africa’s modern art. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-22766310 [Accessed: 26 Aug. 2016].

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, 31st Oct, 2016

The line-up for our inaugural sale included an extraordinary selection of art. Works ranged from JH Pierneef’s breathtaking Karoo near Hofmeyer, painted in 1930, to Dan Halter’s 2006, ultraviolet light, Pefection. 

Sculptures varied from Edoardo Villa’s acknowledgment of French artist, Aristide Maillol to Wim Botha’s heads that draw on classical and contemporary sources and Ed Young’s cheeky nude self-portrait. Also included were impressive photographs by award-winners, David Goldblatt and Pieter Hugo.

The auction set an impressive standard, with an outstanding sell-through rate of over 75% across 121 lots. The top lot of the sale was Alexis Preller’s exceptional Profile Figures (Mirrored Image), selling for over  R7-million. Record sales were achieved for Villa, Goldblatt, and Hugo, amongst others.


Friday 28 October 2016 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 28 October 2016 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 28 October 2016 | 10 am – 4 pm


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