29th Sep, 2021 19:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 37
Lot 37 - Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920-2010)


Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920-2010)
Men with Structures I

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2005
Signature details: signed, dated and inscribed 'One third of a trio entitled 'Men with Structures'' on the reverse

Sold for R330,000
Estimated at R400,000 - R600,000


oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2005
Signature details: signed, dated and inscribed 'One third of a trio entitled 'Men with Structures'' on the reverse


89.5 x 89.5 cm; framed size: 92 x 92 x 5 cm


Private collection, Cape Town.


This painting is part of a trio titled Men with Structures.

“In his commitment to the belief that visual form is meaningful, Hodgins constantly tests the structures of conventional forms of representation”, says Michael Godby, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Cape Town [1].

“Thus, he will quote and parody established art styles, …; he will test combinations of colour; he will draw with colour and colour with line; he will juxtapose elements that conflict – in terms of scale, spatial situations, pictorial style and sense of reality; he will give substance to shadows and reduce mass to two dimensions; and he will challenge the boundaries of the painted world …” [2].

Robert Hodgins makes his acute sense of humour evident in this work of art, focusing on men and structures. The inescapably glorious pink hue was no doubt intentional, making a statement – as it does – about men and structures. Might there have been a disruptive intent on Hodgins’ part? Do these physical structures allude to the social and legal constraints that were challenged constitutionally by the new political dispensation in South Africa after 1994? 2005, the year in which he conceived this painting, is long past 1994. In the interregnum, the world had changed dramatically from the world that Hodgins first experienced as a young man. Hodgins’ radical pink painting might have been a disruptive statement in years gone by, and may still be in many societies today. But in our post-apartheid society, this pink is glorious, joyful and delighted in its liberation – both as a suit, a colour and as a concept.

[1] Godby, M. (2002). ‘The Old Man Mad about Painting’ in Atkinson, B. and Hodgins, R. Robert Hodgins. Cape Town: Tafelberg Publishers, p.78.

[2] Godby, M. (2002). Ibid., p.78.

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, 29th Sep, 2021

Aspire Art Auctions brings a significant and insightfully compiled selection of top-quality modern and contemporary art to auction in Cape Town. The sale stars exceptional works by many of South Africa’s big signatures, including, William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Penny Siopis, Edoardo Villa, Sydney Kumalo and J.H Pierneef, amongst others. Also featured is an exciting collection of contemporary artists from elsewhere in Africa – Patrick Bongoy and Zemba Luzamba from the Congo, Moustapha Baïdi Oumarou from Cameroon and Gerald Chukwuma from Nigeria.

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