Sun, 1st Sep 2019 9:30

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 5
Lot 5 - Kay Hassan (South Africa 1956-)


Kay Hassan (South Africa 1956-)

paper construction

Artwork date: 2003
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right

Sold for R125,180
Estimated at R100,000 - R150,000

Condition Report

The overall condition is good. There is medium-associated cockling present, as well as surface dirt.

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.


paper construction

Artwork date: 2003
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right


108 x 90 cm


Kay Hassan’s collage is both simple and perplexing. One immediately recognises a human head, a name stretching vertically at its left, from a viewer’s vantage point, which reads ‘Johannes’ – the name of a man, or a fragment which also suggests the name of a city – Johannesburg. But it is the larger and more perplexing letters – PLE – which leaves the viewer stymied. What do these letters mean? Is it a code or riddle? Or just an infuriating tease, made all the more infuriating given that it is also the name for the work?According to the urban dictionary, a trusty port of call for the nonplussed, PLES = and I’m inferring the existence of a missing letter in Hassan’s collage – is the universal term for please, of course, nice, sweet, sick, awesome, cool. Hassan’s collage, however, is by no means as endearing. Rather, it is as if the artist wishes to keep the viewer at a remove.The product of a long-standing tradition in South African art – and here another titan, Sam Nhlengethwa, springs to mind – Hassan’s collage is typically dark in its hue, a mix of sepia, ox-blood, and a dominant black. This combination of tones suggests the nocturnal – a face emerging enigmatically from a night-world. For it is darkness and impenetrability which is the work’s defining register - as though one was never meant to decipher the face in its entirety, as though the shreds of recombined paper traces were another level of mystery.PLE is not a declarative art work. It harbours no obvious political directive. Rather, what it most effectively achieves is a gnomic force that speaks of an artist uninterested in being understood or recognised as someone for whom prescription matters most. In short, this is no archetypal resistance art work – and yet in the purist sense it is resistant nonetheless.

Ashraf Jamal

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Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R400

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R800

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