Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) Washer woman, circa 1940

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Lot 14
Gerard Sekoto
(South African, 1913-1993)
Washer woman, circa 1940

Sold for £ 125,062 (US$ 155,952) inc. premium
Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993)
Washer woman, circa 1940
signed 'G SEKOTO' (lower left)
oil on canvas board
26 x 33cm (10 1/4 x 13in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    A private collection.

    Literature
    Song for Sekoto: Gerard Sekoto 1913-2013, (Craighall, 2013), illustrated p.114.

    This painting was executed at a pivotal moment in the artist's career. His reputation in Johannesburg was beginning to grow following a successful solo exhibition at the highly regarded Gainsborough Gallery in 1939. Later that year, he was selected to participate in the South African Art Academy's annual exhibition. In 1940, the Johannesburg Art Gallery acquired a work by Sekoto, their first painting by a black artist.

    Born and raised in Botshabelo, a German Lutheran Mission Station in the Tranvaal, Sekoto originally trained as a teacher. Working with crayons on poster paper, his artistic endeavours largely took the form of portraits of his fellow students. It was only after he was awarded second prize at a competition organised by Fort Hare University College in 1938 that he was motivated to pursue a full time career as an artist.

    In need of greater exposure, he went to stay with his cousins in Sophiatown, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. He was inspired by the vibrancy and dynamism of the inhabitants. He walked the streets carrying notebooks and fragments of paper in his pockets, which he would retrieve at intervals to sketch all kinds of social and commercial interactions. These jottings would later be fleshed out and transformed into complete compositions in his makeshift studio.

    He moved again in 1942, to Eastwood, Pretoria. The paintings of this period document both the harsh conditions for the black South Africans living in these townships, but also communicate the camaraderie shared by their residents. This oil painting of two women doing their washing is a wonderful example. The figures are engaged in a mundane domestic chore, but their movements exude a positive energy derived from companionship.

    The works that Sekoto executed in Sophiatown and Eastwood are amongst his most sought after. It is a rare pleasure to be offering a painting of this period in this condition at auction.

    Bibliography
    Song for Sekoto: Gerard Sekoto 1913-2013, (Craighall, 2013), pp.111-114.
Contacts
Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) Washer woman, circa 1940
Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) Washer woman, circa 1940
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