3rd Mar, 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

  Lot 46
Lot 46 - Peter Clarke (South Africa 1929-2014)


Peter Clarke (South Africa 1929-2014)

oil on canvas laid down on board

Artwork date: 1960
Signature details: signed; dated June 1960 and inscribed with the title in another hand on the reverse

Sold for R432,440
Estimated at R400,000 - R600,000


oil on canvas laid down on board

Artwork date: 1960
Signature details: signed; dated June 1960 and inscribed with the title in another hand on the reverse


44.5 x 36 cm


Those who lived in the small port town where Peter Clarke grew up were wholly dependent on the sea for their livelihood. While some of the men worked at the Simon’s Town docks, as Clarke himself did, many were involved in the fishing trade. A system of lookouts from the cliffs to direct boats to large shoals of fish made for profitable catches. But the pair of fishermen that Clarke portrays, each carrying just two fine specimens, were more likely fishing for their own families’ needs.Painted in 1960 before Clarke’s brief time at Michaelis School of Fine Arts, the sturdy figures that amply fill the picture plane are typical of his early subject matter drawn from his Simon’s Town surroundings. Working in the oil paint introduced to him by Roland Alexander, Clarke uses a favourite motif – the back view of his subjects. The two friends seem unaware that they are being observed, and the viewer, facing in the same direction, feels drawn into the scene.The simple composition is unified by Clarke’s acute colour sense. Played off against the buff-coloured sand, a full spectrum of blues is deployed in the men’s clothing, the lightest blue of the left-hand shirt resonating in the freely painted sky and sea, the darkest blue tinting the dark shadows the men cast as they tramp along the beach, companionably in step with one another. The complementary warm ochre of the other shirt is echoed vividly in the reds of their catch. Far from appearing dead, the fish with their large eyes seem to look back comically at the viewer, and the curve of their gills almost mimics a smile. In an unexpected way they add to the sense of camaraderie.Clarke’s gift for observation makes us look afresh at ordinary occurrences and share his pleasure in everyday relationships.

Elizabeth Rankin

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, 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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