I'll never forget the first time I saw a Dylan Lewis sculpture. It was in the garden of the Royal Geographic Society in South Kensington, London, on a beautiful sunny day in early June 2007. The RGS was our view venue for the first sale Christie's conducted for Dylan Lewis, and until that point I'd only ever seen images of his works.
The sculpture, of a male leopard stretching out on its back, was one of a series of 18 works commissioned by Johann Rupert for the Leopard Creek Golf Course near Malelane, on the southern border of the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
As the work emerged from its wooden crate and straw packing, the first thing I saw exposed was the indentation of a thumb print, thrown into relief by the rich patina of the sculpture. While the bronze was lifted out and the straw packing fell away, I was gripped by the intensity of the surface: an abstract, undulating landscape of gouges, tool marks, palm and finger prints, which all combined to create a stunning portrayal of the formidable beast. As the other sculptures in that sale emerged from their crates, I truly understood the depth of this incredible artist's talent.
The 2007 sale was an extraordinary success and started an enduring relationship between Christie's and Dylan Lewis. His ShapeShifting exhibition at Christie's South Kensington, which included the first of his Human Form works, followed in the summer of 2009. More recently, in June 2011 we conducted a second sale, Predators and Prey II, another great success which cemented his standing in the market as one of South Africa's leading artists.
I'm truly honoured and delighted to be working with Dylan again, and to be able to provide this private sale opportunity to both his and Christie's clients.
Chairman of Christie's South Kensington