14th Sep, 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

  Lot 22
Lot 22 - Deborah Bell (South Africa 1957-)


Deborah Bell (South Africa 1957-)
Meditation 1

bronze on a steel base

Signature details: signed and numbered 1/5
Exhibited: Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg, Everard Read, 7 to 9 September 2012.


bronze on a steel base

Signature details: signed and numbered 1/5
Exhibited: Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg, Everard Read, 7 to 9 September 2012.


87 x 42 x 40 cm excluding base; 117 x 40 x 50 cm including base


Private collection, Johannesburg.

Everard Read, Johannesburg.


Celebrated South African contemporary artist Deborah Bell works in a range of media including canvas, paper, dry point etching and large-scale bronzes. She has developed powerful and recognisable motifs across her works and her iconography draws from a wide range of cultures – African, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, early Christian and European. Fascinated by ancient civilisations and their excavated artefacts her work incorporates powerful, totemic images and layered visual, symbolic and iconographic references of past and present worlds.

Meditation 1 was first shown as a part of Bell’s Meditation series in Earthworks/Claybodies, a thematic exhibition of ceramic sculpture at the Pretoria Art Museum and Standard Bank Gallery in 2003 and the Sasol Museum in 2004. The show was curated by artist Wilma Cruise and included artwork by Deborah Bell, Guy du Toit, Josephine Ghesa and Cruise herself.

Cruise notes that, “all four artists work figuratively” and that they, “all use the body as a conveyor of meaning”. The most obvious link is, however, “their use of the material of fired clay”. They were united by the ways in which they boldly challenge the boundaries of ceramics. Bell is not known primarily for her work with clay. She has however achieved notable success with the medium and Cruise elaborates that “it takes an artist from outside ceramics to show us how the medium can be used in a manner that is both assertively physical in its dealing with the elements of clay and fire and at the same time challenging in its conceptual ramifications”.

The Meditation Series I-III were originally exhibited only in their clay form and later cast in bronze. An edition of 5 and 2 artists proof were cast and were first exhibited by the Everard Read Gallery at the 2012 FNB Joburg Artfair.

Bell’s work is represented in public and private collections around the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institute and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Hara Museum in Tokyo and the IZIKO South African National Gallery in Cape Town.

[1] Cruise, W. (2003). On curating Earthworks/Claybodies: an exhibition of ceramic sculpture, de arte, 38:68, 57-58, DOI: 10.1080/00043389.2003.11877015. pp.57-58.


The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, Hara Museum, Tokyo.; Museum of Modern Art, New York.; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town and Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 14th Sep, 2022


Aspire Art will impress collectors with this focused, boutique-style auction. Including 81 carefully selected lots the sale boasts impressive examples by many of South Africa’s most celebrated artists. A fine selection of William Kentridge works, including two original drawings, Eduardo Villa sculptures, painting by Robert Hodgins and Walter Battiss and a wonderful early Penny Siopis drawing are on offer.

Also featured are two special sections – Black Modernism and Photography. Aspire has firmly cemented itself as a champion of both these collecting segments and collectors will be spoilt for choice with a rare drawing by Dumile Feni as well as works by other modernists including Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba and Lucas Sithole and photographs by David Goldblatt, Mohau Modisakeng and Simphiwe Ndzube amongst others.


The exhibition preview is open to the public.

Viewing is from Friday 9 to Wednesday 14 September.

Weekdays from 09h30 to 16h30, Saturdays from 09h30 to 14h00, and Sundays by appointment.

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