Christo Coetzee (South African, 1929-2000) Still life of a fish

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Lot 13
Christo Coetzee
(South African, 1929-2000)
Still life of a fish

£ 12,000 - 18,000
US$ 16,000 - 24,000
Christo Coetzee (South African, 1929-2000)
Still life of a fish
signed 'Christo Coetzee' (lower left)
oil on board
60.5 x 122cm (23 13/16 x 48 1/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Purchased by current owner from Hanover Gallery, 1955.
    Private collection, UK.

    Exhibited
    London, Hanover Gallery, Christo Coetzee solo exhibition , 1955. Catalogue number 6.

    Literature
    M. Gowling, 'The Influence of Anthony Denney', Art and Industry, (1956), illustrated.
    Stevenson & Viljoen, Christo Coetzee: Paintings from London and Paris 1954-1964, (Cape Town, 2001), illustrated p.11.


    On completing his Fine Arts degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1951, Christo Coetzee hosted an exhibition of his work in Cape Town. The show was critically acclaimed; John Paris, then the director of the South African National Gallery, wrote:

    "(Coetzee) is a born painter but has been well taught...what happens next will depend upon the person he becomes in contact with the wider world. The day after this exhibition opens he leaves for a few years 'looking' and further study in Europe...We shall watch with interest...I believe, if he has the staying power, (he could) become a very important figure indeed in the history of art in South Africa" (John Paris, Christo Coetzee, Cape Town, 1951).

    Following this exhibition, Coetzee moved to London having received a post-graduate scholarship to the Slade School of Art. Here, the artist was introduced to the photographer and designer, Anthony Denney. Denney would become an important collector and a life-long mentor.

    During the 1950s, Denney regularly featured Coetzee's work in his interior design projects, juxtaposing his abstract paintings with antiques and decorative works of art. He particularly admired Coetzee's surreal still lifes:

    "The unexpected contradiction of a sharp note of colour, a sudden change of scale and that mysterious rapport between objects of a totally dissimilar which defies analysis" (A. Denney, 'Art, antiques and art nouveau', Vogue, 15.5.1965, p.70).

    The current lot is one of a series of still lifes the artist painted for his first solo exhibition at the Hanover Gallery, London, in 1955. The show was arranged by Denney and opened by Loelia, Duchess of Westminster. The fifty-one paintings exhibited were well received. A reviewer for the publication, Time and Tide, praised Coetzee's inventiveness and "unusual sense of the luscious possibilities of paint". Twelve of the still lifes were sold before the opening night.

    Bibliography
    Stevenson & Viljoen, Christo Coetzee: Paintings from London and Paris 1954-1964, (Cape Town, 2001), pp.8-13.
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