Stanley Faraday Pinker (South African, 1924-2012) 'Thoughts on the Té Hé Gla, Blé Gla and Gbona Gla' 107.5 x 116cm (42 5/16 x 45 11/16in) not including attachments
Lot 54*
Stanley Faraday Pinker
(South African, 1924-2012)
'Thoughts on the Té Hé Gla, Blé Gla and Gbona Gla' 107.5 x 116cm (42 5/16 x 45 11/16in) not including attachments
Sold for £86,500 (US$ 113,972) inc. premium

Lot Details
Stanley Faraday Pinker (South African, 1924-2012) 'Thoughts on the Té Hé Gla, Blé Gla and Gbona Gla' 107.5 x 116cm (42 5/16 x 45 11/16in) not including attachments
Stanley Faraday Pinker (South African, 1924-2012)
'Thoughts on the Té Hé Gla, Blé Gla and Gbona Gla'
signed 'SFPinker' (lower left); bears label with artist's name and title (verso)
oil and mixed media on canvas with found objects
107.5 x 116cm (42 5/16 x 45 11/16in) not including attachments


  • Provenance
    From the collection of the artist.
    By direct descent to the current owner.

    Stanley Pinker was born in Windhoek, South West Africa, in 1924. He began his artistic training in Cape Town under the tutelage of Maurice van Essche. He had enrolled to study graphic design but changed programmes after attending a life drawing class. Pinker then continued his studies in Europe from 1951. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the artist worked and studied in London and the South of France, experiencing European modernist movements first hand.

    The formal concerns of the Fauves and Cubists inspired Pinker's experimental compositions. In Thoughts on the Té Hé Gla, Blé Gla and Gbona Gla, objects are reduced to essential shapes and colours. There is no attempt to create an illusion of depth; all objects occupy the same shallow space. The curator Hayden Proud has described Pinker's canvases as a stage set, the abstract elements his 'dramatis personae'. Found objects project beyond the picture frame, spilling into the viewer's space. No longer a window into an imagined world, Pinker's canvas challenges what a painting should and can be, thereby breaking down the boundaries separating life and art.

    Two central figures are set against a background of alternating blue and yellow squares. On the left is 'the dancer'. More machine than man, the figure's plastic heart is attached to the outside of his metallic chest cavity. His genitals are a length of metal piping. There is no human brain behind the man's face, just a series of pistons and pipes. The speech bubble emerging from his mouth contains the words: 'Ek sê' ('I say' in Afrikaans), and 'I love war'. One of the pipes emerging from the dancer's head leads down to the bottom of the canvas, labelled with the stencil, 'WEE WEE, OUI OUI!'. The suggestion is that such utterances have no function, they are a waste product comparable to urine.

    To the dancer's right is 'the singer'. The dog-like figure sits on a chamber pot playing a horn. A mixture of H2O and 'Lolo Lait' (a popular song famously performed by the comedic French actor and singer, Andre Bourvil) are being fed to the creature through a funnel. However, this is no musical genius. The words, 'Alas! Poor Mozart' are stencilled above his head. As with the dancer, all this singer can produce is 'crap' and 'plomb'.

    The surrounding textual references further deride the artistic pretensions of these figures. The hanging sign in the lower-left corner reads: 'Moliere & his Bourgeois gentilhomme'. This refers to Moliere's comedie-ballet from 1670, that tells the story of Mr Jourdain, a foolish middle-class aspirant whose sole aim is to gain acceptance in aristocratic circles. He devotes himself to the gentlemanly arts of fencing, dancing and playing music. His actions are ultimately futile; in seventeenth century France to be a gentleman required noble blood.

    The titles of his artworks are of great significance to Pinker. Té Hé Gla, Blé Gla and Gbona Gla most likely refers to the wisdom masks of the Dan people of Liberia. Traditionally these masks were worn by dancers and singers in order to frighten away evil spirits and negative forces. Pinker's invocation of these masked performers is ironic; his singer and dancer are devoid of wisdom and power. On one level we can read the painting as a critique of modern society. However, Pinker has qualified these interpretations, urging viewers to see the humour and playfulness in his works:

    "I hope the works will be seen for what they are, a great deal of fun, a reflection of humour, affection for found materials, and my pleasure in creation" (Stevenson, p.108).

    M. Stevenson, Stanley Pinker, (Cape Town, 2004) pp. 9-108.
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