Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) A township street
Lot 39*
Gerard Sekoto
(South African, 1913-1993)
A township street
Sold for £ 45,000 (US$ 59,189) inc. premium

Lot Details
Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993)
A township street
signed 'G Sekoto' (lower right)
oil on board
51 x 62cm (20 1/16 x 24 7/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired by a private collector in South Africa, circa 1960.
    By direct descent.


    Although undated, this painting is stylistically consistent with Sekoto's works from the late 1950s. It depicts two women on the street of a South African township. At the time of execution, the artist was living in Paris. However, he had spent a number of years residing in Sophiatown, a township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, prior to this.

    Although Sekoto moved to Paris voluntarily in 1947, he later described it as a self-imposed exile. There were many more opportunities for an artist in Europe at the time, and Sekoto knew his career would benefit from the relocation. However, he struggled with homesickness. The paintings he executed in this period reveal his nostalgia for South Africa, looking back to his life in Sophiatown. He described his emotions in a letter to his friend Barbara Lindop:

    "All that I do, even outside of South Africa, is still with the eye, the heart and the soul of the land of my birth. I must hear and listen to all the cares and joys - gaieties which shoulder all the sufferings, injustices, greeds and hatreds. Through the wealth of gold and other minerals in our country - yet still looking forward into building up a future suitable to the honour of mankind..." (1968)

    Whilst the subject matter recalls Sekoto's time in the township, the scene demonstrates how his style transformed during his residence in Paris. The female figures are depicted in loose, impressionistic brushstrokes. There is a confidence in the application of paint. Sekoto later acknowledged that the change in environment had encouraged a revolution in technique:

    "Quality and texture could - and do - change according to the artist's environment, circumstances at various moments, general atmosphere and climatic conditions, contacts and experiences. In a new environment they change together with facing a new world of art" (extract from a letter to Barbara Lindop, 1968).

    Bibliography
    B. Lindop, Gerard Sekoto, (Johannesburg, 1988), pp.18-26, 241, 249.
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Contacts
  1. Eliza Sawyer
    Specialist - South African Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5881
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