Apr 04, 2019 - Sale 2504

Sale 2504 - Lot 156

Price Realized: $ 149,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 150,000 - $ 250,000
JOHN BIGGERS (1924 - 2001)
Death and Resurrection.

Oil on linen canvas, 1996. 1016x1524 mm; 40x60 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower right.

Provenance: comissioned directly from the artist; private collection, Texas (1996).

John Biggers's Death and Resurrection is an important and beautiful painting from the artist's last years, a wonderful example of the rich complexity in composition, subject matter and symbolism in Biggers' late paintings.Death and Resurrection is a culmination of the level of expression that Biggers achieved in his 1980s and 90s paintings. Here Biggers continues to the develop the important themes of the celebrations of life and death that he first explored in the 1950s - found in his seminal paintings Web of Life andJubilee: Ghana Harvest Festival.

In the 1990s, Biggers displays a fleuncy in a rich symbolism, derived from his study of African cultural practice, in constructing his compositions. Here he includes a procession of women carrying goods on their heads, and of mothers carrying babies, lines of shotgun houses and the river teeming with turtles, herons, water lilies and fish and the patterns and colors of African fabric. Bigers scholar Dr. Aliva Wardlaw has written about Death and Resurrection Biggers further references various African traditions: the gelede masks from the Yoruba, the Horus symbols on the headresses from ancient Egypt, and printed patterns found in traditional South African dress. The striking scene is bathed in a dramatic red light from a fiery setting sun. This rich panorama of African tradition overwhelms whatever the modern urban skyline Biggers tucked in the upper left corner might offer. Alvia Wardlaw describes how in Biggers'Death and Resurrection "it is apparent that he is continuing to explore the mysteries of life and death while drawing upon so much of his earlier imagery and iconography to develop the work." Painting in his twilight years, Biggers displays a contemplation of his own mortality withDeath and Resurrection.