Sun, 12th Nov 2017 17:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 63
Lot 63 - Peter Clarke (South Africa 1929-2014)


Peter Clarke (South Africa 1929-2014)
The Athlete

gouache and collage on paper

Artwork date: 1979
Signature details: signed, dated 28.4.1979 and inscribed ‘France’; dated and inscribed with the title on the reverse

Sold for R295,568
Estimated at R200,000 - R300,000

Condition Report

Minor cockling, collage slightly lifting in areas, minor surface dirt, otherwise good. Examined out of the frame, not laid down, adhered to mount board wit archival tape.

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.


gouache and collage on paper

Artwork date: 1979
Signature details: signed, dated 28.4.1979 and inscribed ‘France’; dated and inscribed with the title on the reverse


65 x 50 cm


Peter Clarke never considered leaving South Africa, mindful of his mother’s saying, ‘always see that the house is tidy before you go out’ – and there was so much to be ‘tidied’ in his home country. But time at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 1962, and in 1976 at the International Writing Programme at Iowa, USA, made him aware of the value of travelling, meeting international artists and seeing their work. Despite the cultural boycotts against South Africa, he was able to win a place at Atelier Nord in Oslo in late 1978. There he began exploring collage extensively, and in larger format. Works produced in Norway, and while visiting George Hallett in France in 1979 before he returned home, like The Athlete, are an important transition to his later abstract work.Clarke had always hoarded paper: torn scraps are layered with paint to make up the broken sky. The Athlete himself is clipped from a magazine, while fragments of marbled endpapers make up the crazy-paving of the ground. Tulips with painted stems and leaves are formed of shaped pieces of bright crimson fabric, while slivers of red paper define the handlebar grips and saddle of the painted bicycle propped against the wall. It was at this time that walls reminiscent of Cape Dutch architecture entered Clarke’s work – for him symbols of the divisions of South African society. And the runner probably represents a Cuban winner at athletics, a subject Clarke spoke of as a symbol of black agency in a white-dominated world. But his political message is handled with a light touch. The ‘LUCIFERPUZZEL’ poster on the wall hints at a puzzle in the work to tease the viewer. The Dutch poster logo refers to ‘Samen Rationeel Verkopen’ mobile supermarket service. Does it, and the bicycle, humorously suggest the athlete’s speed, or perhaps alternate forms of mobility?

Elizabeth Rankin

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 12th Nov 2017

Aspire’s final auction for 2017 ended the year on a high note with a collection of top historical, modern and contemporary artworks.

A number of superb historic paintings came to auction, dating back to the late nineteenth century. Among them were works by Hugo Naudé, Anton Van Wouw, and Dorothy Kay. A fine collection of mid-twentieth century modern work by South Africa’s best-known artists at auction including Edoardo Villa, Maggie Laubser, Sydney Kumalo and Irma Stern were also on offer. The top lot by value was, however, a contemporary work. A superb drawing by world-renowned South African artist William Kentridge. Drawing from Mine (Soho with coffee plunger and cup) (1991), sold for R5 456 640, a record for a drawing by Kentridge in South Africa.


Thursday 9 November 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Friday 10 November 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 11 November 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 12 November 2017 | 10 am – 3 pm

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