Sun, 2nd Jun 2019 9:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 28
Lot 28 - Peter Clarke (South Africa 1929-2014)


Peter Clarke (South Africa 1929-2014)
Atlantic Sunset

oil on board

Artwork date: 1972
Signature details: signed and dated 30.12.72 bottom right

Sold for R295,880
Estimated at R250,000 - R400,000

Condition Report

The overall condition is excellent. The paint is stable and vibrant, the painting was cleaned and a thin layer of matt varnish applied by our restorer this month.

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.


oil on board

Artwork date: 1972
Signature details: signed and dated 30.12.72 bottom right


45 x 57 cm


It is difficult, given the mental and emotional distance set up by time passed, to understand the extent to which forced removals in the apartheid era damaged and traumatised the communities they disrupted. In Peter Clarke’s case his family had long settled in Simon’s Town, and Clarke himself found work at the town docks. His days would have been filled with epic coastal vistas looking down over the harbour from the hillside above.But then came the forced removals of the local community to Ocean View, further north, in the early 1970s, leaving the Clarkes, as Rankin and Hobbs point out in their monograph on the artist, temporarily one of only two ‘Coloured’ families left in Simon’s Town.[i] Due to an administrative delay the Clarke family would only finally relocate to Ocean View in mid-1973. The desolate nature of the landscape around Ocean View, in stark contrast to the drama and richness of Simon’s Town, would have come as a shock to Clarke’s painterly imagination. Indeed, Rankin and Hobbs attribute a relative drying up of his output then to the forced change of landscape.These factors in Clarke’s life recontextualise this important work at auction. Its significance lies partly in its precise date – 30 December 1972 – and that it is an ambitious, relatively large-scale work in acrylic, an unusual medium for the artist. The idyllic scene of the sun setting over two tranquil fishermen out on the Atlantic Ocean is one that Clarke might have seen in his many trips to Kommetjie, the unspoilt and beautiful stretch of coastline almost equidistant from Simon’s Town and Ocean View. Clarke’s care with his colour palette in his realisation of the deep and radiant sunset is evident, as is the air of poignancy as well as tranquillity about the work. It is as if, on the cusp of a new year in which he is leaving his beloved Atlantic coast home behind, Clarke is saying farewell to its beauty.The painting is a wonderful example of Clarke’s larger-scale landscapes, and is never-before-seen at auction or by dealers. Unusually, and entirely coincidentally, the auction is taking place on Peter Clarke’s birthday!

James Sey


[i] Rankin, E. and Hobbs, P. (2014) Listening to Distant Thunder: The art of Peter Clarke. Cape Town: Fernwood Press. p. 122.

[ii] Ibid. p.131.

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 2nd Jun 2019

Aspire Art Auctions presented a focused and insightfully compiled selection of top-quality modern and contemporary art in their latest sale in Johannesburg.

The company’s commitment to innovation led to a bold and signature move in this sale, which featured a special section dedicated to photography. The medium has been traditionally strong among South African artists but has been without a proper focus in the local auction market. The ground-breaking segment featured a wide range of the most important South African photographers, including Pieter Hugo, David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim, and Zanele Muholi. In addition, the sale starred a number of the market’s big signatures – Alexis Preller J.H. Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, and Maggie Laubser and top contemporary artists including, Diane Victor, and Wim Botha.


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