Sun, 17th Jun 2018 18:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 32
Lot 32 - Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920-2010)


Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920-2010)
Father and Son

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1996
Signature details: signed, dated, inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse

Sold for R569,000
Estimated at R500,000 - R800,000

Condition Report


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 canvas

Artwork date: 1996
Signature details: signed, dated, inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse


90 x 120 cm

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


At first glance, Robert Hodgins’ Father and Son might look unfinished. But look again: it is not the painting that is unresolved; the painting is, precisely, of ideas coming into form.
Note in particular the irreducible paradox in the way the central figure – as asserted in hard, spare outlining in red, minimal modelling in blue – dissolves into mute offwhite background at left. By the same token, Hodgins renders the figure as form emerging from out of nothingness. Idea, God-like in the time-space of art, becomes flesh. Aficionados will recognise in Father and Son something like a command performance of Hodgins’ avowed painterly process: as an all but automatic engagement between the artist’s unconscious and the empty canvas, in which the artist would lay on marks without conscious purpose to ‘push paint around’ until form would emerge and finally cohere into the state of grace of the finished work of art. Thus the intensity with which the eye is drawn to the focus area of the painting, the portraiture in the central figure – as counterpointed with the primitive, cartoonish paint-sketching in the smaller, disembodied head. There is a livid quality to the way Hodgins’ pinks, reds and blues come together to define form – an almost flayed rawness of sensibility.The effect is haunting, and made more so by a fundamental dualism in his portraiture. The two halves do not cohere, and the visage is left in an anxious irresolution that leads into the titular theme. One both atavistic and heavily invested with emotion: fraught with ambivalence and snagged on hooks of blood and self, continuity and discontinuity. Hodgins is far too good a painter to exploit autobiography to sentimental or anecdotal effect. But he never knew his own father, nor, himself, fathered a son. That non-consummation is frozen here in an image of rare accomplishment and human empathy.

Ivor Powell

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 17th Jun 2018

In a slow and unresponsive market, amid tight economic conditions generally in South Africa, Aspire Art Auctions made impressive statements and set several world records.

Two rare works by Irma Stern achieved sparkling results. The top lot by value: Still life with magnolias, apples and bowl (1949), fetched R6 828 000, the highest price achieved for a work by Stern for over a year. Another significant still life, Still life with chrysanthemums in the artist’s handmade ceramic jug, from 1950, sold for R3 414 000.

A significant, world record was achieved for Peter Clarke – R1 479 400 for Lazy Day, an acrylic and gouache on paper from 1975, and records were also set for contemporary artists, Zander Blom and Paul Stopforth.


Thursday 14 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Friday 15 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 16 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 17 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm

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