Our Cape Town Premium February Auction includes a variety of contemporary and mid-to-late 20th century art. Join us as we take a look at two of our highlight pieces – an artwork by Peter Clarke entitled Goddess of Sustenance and an early work by Cinga Samson. Both form part of the collection of struggle art collector, Donald Jansen.
Peter Clarke’s contribution to the fabric of South African art history cannot be undervalued. Born in 1929, the artist’s story begins in Simonstown, where he started out as a dockworker before pursuing art professionally. Despite the oppressive regime of Apartheid Clarke’s talent was evident and led him to receive numerous commissions. In 1959, he was granted a special dispensation to attend a printmaking course at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town.
Internationally acclaimed, Clarke’s works have been featured in major shows such as the 1961 São Paulo Biennale and the 1964 Venice Biennale. In 2011, a major retrospective exhibition celebrated his career at the Standard Bank Gallery as well as at the Iziko South African National Gallery.
The influence of German Expressionism and tribal African art and artefacts is clear in Goddess of Sustenance. Clarke’s fascination with African artefacts is evident in his drawings made at the South African and Natal Museums. This interest persisted, with Clarke exploring African subject matters in various paintings from the late 1950s to the 1960s.
Clarke was interested in the work of Irma Stern and kept documents of her exhibitions in his studio. The connection is evident in Goddess of Sustenance which depicts a composition reminiscent of some of Irma Stern’s works incorporating African objects.
Unlike Stern, Clarke’s engagement with African subject matters appears as a visual exploration rather than an expression of a particular affinity with Africa (Rankin and Hobbes, 2011). Yet, his drawings of African artefacts in the 1950s and his early preference for “the art of the Congo and Africa” suggested a growing interest in the continent’s artistic heritage.
Beyond his prolific career as an artist, Clarke played a vital role in supporting and mentoring emerging talents within the South African art scene. Known for his generosity and commitment to nurturing the next generation, Clarke actively engaged with young artists, offering guidance and encouragement. In fact, it was Peter Clarke himself who recommended the purchase of the Cinga Samson work to Donald Jansen – noting that Samson was an artist to watch.
Cinga Samson is an internationally exhibiting artist with an extensive exhibition currently on at Norval Foundation. The striking acrylic on paper by Samson once formed part of a humble 2010 exhibition at 38 Special Art Café and Studio in Cape Town. The body of work was titled 700 Wives and 300 Concubines, referencing Solomon, King of Israel, mentioned in 1 Kings 11:3 (“He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray”). The show included catholic and religious iconography as well as images of judges.
While the artist has chosen to use bright colours in this composition, emerging symbolism now found in his current body of work can be seen in portrayal of the blank eyes in his figures. The flowers on the table appear to be the topic of discussion for the three figures surrounding it. Much of Samson’s current work similarly focuses on figures and still lives; here the two are combined.
This is a wonderful piece for collectors who appreciate acquiring works which demonstrate an artist’s progress, as the present work was produced 14 years ago when Samson was a recent graduate.
Other mentionable blue-chip artists on our February Premium Auction includes Steven Cohen, Marlene Dumas, Dylan Lewis, Walter Meyer, Sanell Aggenbach, and Angus Taylor. Join us for our public viewing in Claremont on 16th – 18th February, and for the live auction on 20th – 22nd February. For any enquiries or condition reports please email email@example.com or contact us on 021 794 6461.