Sun, 3rd Mar 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 32
 
Lot 32 - Alexis Preller (South Africa 1911-1975)

32

Alexis Preller (South Africa 1911-1975)
The Blue Plate

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1956
Signature details: signed and dated
Exhibited: Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, Alexis Preller, 13 to 24 March 1956.

Sold for R2,276,000
Estimated at R2,000,000 - R4,000,000


Condition Report

Exhibited: Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, Alexis Preller, 13 to 24 March 1956. Condition: Four areas of applied adhesive/beeswax on the reverse, revarnished, minor stretcher marks, very minor cracking in areas, otherwise good.

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: 1956
Signature details: signed and dated
Exhibited: Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, Alexis Preller, 13 to 24 March 1956.

(1)

51 x 61.5 cm

Notes:

Alexis Preller was in many ways an artist torn between two impulses: in one thread his work is cosmic, fantastical, visionary; in another observational, familiar, acute. What often tied the threads together was his ubiquitous ‘household gods’ concept. These talismanic domestic objects were various, brought together from his travels, as gifts from friends and family, or taken from his garden and immediate surrounds.The ways in which these objects weave through his artistic output are very interesting. Often they appear in a painting to tie a grand theme or subject to a more prosaic and familiar grounding. At other times they provide a sacramental character to scenes depicted in his paintings, providing the markers of a visionary space. This reorientation of the meanings inherent in everyday objects, a recasting of the relationships between objects and their significance, became one of the hallmarks of Preller’s work. Even the standard subjects of still life painting generally, such as fruit, took on an overdetermined symbolic nature in his work. Good examples of this are the intaglio apples of his later career.

In this work, a decidedly domestic still life tableau is given a typically Prelleresque signature by the addition of symbolically charged items from the artist’s studio. The blue plate in the mid-foreground contains pieces of fruit in a concession to standard still life convention. In the bottom right of the frame an impossibly blue aubergine echoes the blue of the plate, reminding us of the artist’s mastery of and innovation with colour. The range of other domestic objects, including the bottles dominating the left mid-ground of the frame, and the pile of books whose identity is carefully elided, beautifully establish the context of the work as an accomplished still life. But other elements make it a Preller still life. The stylised screens in the background, and particularly the sketched profile figure in the midground, are quintessential touches by the artist. The audacious inclusion of one of his own works in this painting makes it unusual – the profile figure would reappear many times over the years, and featured in a very similar composition to the one rendered here as a still life object, in the two paintings entitled The Young King, a year later than this exquisite work.

James Sey

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 3rd Mar 2019

Aspire Art Auctions set a new bar for the market in its Autumn 19 Auction in Cape Town, with a South African auction record for its cover lot.

An early work, by international star Marlene Dumas, Love Lost (1973/4) achieved R7 283 200, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of R3 000 000. Further successful sales included a range of paintings by Alexis Preller from across his career, and new world records for work by Jane Alexander, Simphiwe Ndzube, and Moshekwa Langa. These results further establish Aspire’s growing reputation as the discerning auction house for handling contemporary South African art.  

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