30th Nov, 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

  Lot 67
Lot 67 - Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920-2010)


Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920-2010)
Artist in his Studio

graphite and oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2006/7
Signature details: signed, dated, inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse

Estimated at R700,000 - R1,000,000

Condition Report

The overall condition of the work is very good. Minor surface dirt on the top left corner of the canvas.

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.


graphite and oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2006/7
Signature details: signed, dated, inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse


90.5 x 120.5 cm; framed size: 92 x 122 x 7.5 cm


Private collection, Cape Town.

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Quintessentially Hodgins, this strikingly planar painting vibrates with several of the artist’s perennial strategies. Firstly, there is his unexpected choice of colours that infuse the narrative of the painting with their own sublimely off-key logic. A soft, fleshy pink offsets the hard red lines and complex geometry of the furniture and the painting as a whole, asserting the co-existence of abstract sensuality and cerebral complexity.

Secondly, there is the postmodern composition. In a nod to Mondrian, the surface of the painting is divided into three rectangular planes, each framing a vignette, suggesting that the content of these three planes may be related, but may also depict occurrences of their own order. With this conceptual architecture, Hodgins questions the relationship between the artist in his studio, the model or subject of the painting in real space and time, and the public arena of exhibition. The painting suggests that they are at once related fields, but also separate from one another, imbued with their own moods, demands and atmospheres – all of which must be factored into the daunting act of painting.

Is it any surprise then that the humble painter finds himself squeezed into the corner almost overpowered by the demands of translating the scene before him onto his easel? This configuration is Hodgins’s humour at play, because he is the small man in blue trying to make sense of the challenge that he has set himself. The joke and the abiding irony is that he has succeeded!

According to Neil Dundas, Senior Curator at Goodman Gallery, the blue artist figure in the corner is instantly recognisable as Hodgins, who often wore an oversized, blue overall. Hodgins only ever did three self-portraits, and only much later in life, says Dundas.[1] This painting was the first. It is a self-reflexive meditation on painting and the studio as a complex space of production and meditation.

Alexandra Dodd

[1] Neil Dundas, telephonic conversation with Sarah Sinisi, 19 October 2022.


The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg; Javett Art Centre, Pretoria; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 30th Nov, 2022


The focused sale brings to market 84 highly collectable lots, with the diverse collection showcasing highlights by modern masters including magnificent still-life compositions and a Zanzibari boat scene by Irma Stern, an Alexis Preller abstract and an early JH Pierneef landscape. Also included is a significant collection of celebrated contemporary artists: Mustafa Maluka, David Koloane, Walter Oltmann, Norman Catherine, Willem Boshoff, a rare self-portrait oil by Robert Hodgins as well as a large bronze sculpture by Zanele Muholi, the first of this new body of work to be offered on auction.
The sale features a special selection of artworks by William Kentridge. One of the most celebrated and influential living artists today, his major retrospective exhibition is currently on show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. This is one of the most unique and high-quality Kentridge collections to come to market. Spanning his career and showcasing the many mediums in which he works, the sale features signature charcoal drawings alongside collages, tapestry, prints and sculptures.

View all lots in this sale

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