'Wounded Sculpture' signed and dated 'Preller '47' (lower left) oil on canvasboard 71 x 92cm (27 15/16 x 36 1/4in).
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) has declared this lot a work of national importance and has declined a permit for its export. Therefore it is not subject to VAT on either the hammer price or the buyer's premium. The lot will be available for viewing at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. Payment for this lot may be made in Sterling in London or in South African Rand through our Johannesburg office using the published rate of exchange on the date of the auction. Collection must be made through our Johannesburg office. Please contact the department for further information.
PROVENANCE: A private collection
EXHIBITED: Pretoria, Christi's Gallery, Twenty Paintings, 10-25 October 1947, cat. no. 3 Johannesburg, Constantia Galleries, Alexis Preller, 17-29 November 1947, cat. no. 4 Pretoria, Pretoria Art Museum, Alexis Preller retrospective, 24 October-26 November 1972, cat. no. 22, illustrated
LITERATURE: E. Berman & K. Nel, Alexis Preller, A Visual Biography, (Johannesburg, 2009), illustrated p. 44
Following a break with his long-time partner Christi Truter and a subsequent suicide attempt, Alexis Preller travelled to Europe at the end of 1946. In Paris, he frequented the galleries as a means of soothing his troubled mind. In the Louvre he examined the collections of marble sculpture from Ancient Greece for the second time. He had previously seen them in 1937, prior to his service in the military during World War II. Returning to them with a new perspective on life, Preller viewed them, rather like himself, as victims broken by the ravages of life.
"Items that had previously appealed as fragmented relics of a golden age, appreciated for their ineffaceable formal qualities and artistry, now assumed an entirely different meaning for Alexis. In the armless torso of the Rampin Knight, the broken slender figure of the Boy on a Horse, and the many other damaged survivors of the centuries, he recognised the similarities between the ravages of time and the mutilation wrought by war."
Although reminiscent of di Chirico's earlier Surrealist paintings of broken statues in metaphysical landscapes, Preller has imbued his figures with suggestions of movement and even battle. His landscape seems to live and undulate.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Berman & K. Nel, Alexis Preller, A Visual Biography & Collected Images, (Johannesburg, 2009)