Robert Griffiths Hodgins (South African, 1920-2010) Man in Rumpled Suit, 2005
Lot 55
Robert Griffiths Hodgins
(South African, 1920-2010)
Man in Rumpled Suit, 2005
Sold for £20,000 (US$ 26,391) inc. premium

Lot Details
Robert Griffiths Hodgins (South African, 1920-2010)
Man in Rumpled Suit, 2005
signed, titled and dated (verso); bears Myerson Fine Art label
oil on canvas
90 x 90cm (35 7/16 x 35 7/16in).

Footnotes

  • The suited businessman is a recurring motif in Hodgins' oeuvre. His preoccupation with the theme began in 1981 when he was working on a series of paintings inspired by Alfred Jarry's play Ubu Roi. Jarry's play, first performed in Paris in 1896, is a scathing and satirical portrait of fin de siecle bourgeois society.

    The central character, Ubu, is an anti-hero: fat, vulgar, grandiose, dishonest, self-interested and cruel. The South African playwright, Jane Taylor, argues that Ubu's puerile complacency is exacerbated by his middle class, privileged status; he "inhabits a domain of greedy self-gratification".

    Hodgins saw many parallels between the self-serving Ubu and modern day capitalists during Apartheid. The artist was fascinated by how the suit seemed to legitimize all kinds of exploitation and evil. Society condoned ruthlessness and greed as long as the perpetrators were wearing these uniforms of respectability. In an interview with Ivor Powell in 1994, Hodgins expressed the motivations behind the series:

    "I've been working with businessmen in suits. Now what are these suits? Are they protection, are they coats of armour, are they camouflage, are they sexual devices to show they are successful? What are these suits really?" (Art Ventilator issue 1, 1994)

    Curator, Rayda Becker, has also described the suit as a carapace, a carefully-constructed disguise:

    "Behind the pinstripes and safety of a gark suit lurk the lurid ogres of rampant convention, the sloths of greed and priests of emotional apathy."

    Paintings such as Man in Rumpled Suit expose the hollowness of this facade. This 'captain of industry' is only human, a flawed and bloated figure. A fact the bathetic title drives home.

    Bibliography
    S. Perryer, 10 Years 100 Artists: Art in a Democratic South Africa, (Cape Town, 2004), p.158-161.
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  1. Eliza Sawyer
    Auction administration - South African Art
    Bonhams
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