Back To Auction View Of Cape Town – October 2016

Lot 520

Peter Clarke


45 by 60cm

R900 000 – R1 500 000

signed and dated Nov.1969 oil and sand on board

In this painting Clarke depicts four people of colour sunbathing at Cape Town’s Sandy Bay. One male figure looks out towards a boat at sea while three other figures sun-bathe at ease on the beach. Sandy Bay is a well-known secluded nudist beach, only accessible by footpath from Llandudno or Hout Bay on the Atlantic coastline.

This work was painted in 1969, three years prior to the family being victims of forced removal from Simon’s Town to Ocean View under the Group Areas Act. The painting is monumental in medium, size, subject matter and style – a rare oil and sand on board - the same medium as Clarke’s iconic LISTENING TO DISTANT THUNDER which was painted in 1970 and forms part of the Johannesburg Art Gallery collection. In both paintings, Clarke’s familiar abstract forms and geometric lines are strongly evident. With bold brushstrokes and the use of contrasting colour and line, the artist once again proves his strong Cubist influence; a style which Picasso and Braque developed in the early 1900s in Paris.

The precise location of the nude bathers in LOT 519 has recently been confirmed by Richard Clarke, the brother of the late artist. Upon viewing it, he remembered it immediately and commented, “definitely Sandy Bay”. Once Simon’s Town had become an ‘affected area’ under the Group Areas Act, Mr Clarke went on to comment on how groups of people would gather and head down to Sandy Bay. As the path was a lovely yet long walk, the police would seldom bother to take the time to walk down to this beach (as opposed to the beaches in the Simon’s Town surrounds which were easier to access and thereby monitor under Apartheid law). He recalled how people would gather there in groups and express themselves in an open environment without threat.

Art author and critic, Elizabeth Rankin comments, “Of the beaches, he (Clarke) said there was a kind of natural segregation before the Group Areas Act, yet remarked how confusing and upsetting it was to find beaches designated white or non-white by law. I can imagine him enjoying the idea of transgressing petty apartheid rules, though!” The painting was a wedding gift from Peter Clarke to a close friend in the early 1970s and was subsequently sold to the current owner. It has never been exhibited or viewed by the general public before and now makes its first
appearance on the open market.


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