Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cecil Skotnes: African Artist, dies at 82

Cecil Skotnes, who died this week at the age of 82, was one of the most important artists in South Africa in the second half of the 20th century.

His sustained and monumental exploration of indigenous materials challenged and extended existing modernist conventions. His search for a particularly modern African identity was allied to his contribution to the development of a new generation of professional black urban artists, at a time when avenues for art education for black people were being blocked by apartheid legislation.



Skotnes developed a formal language and used materials taken from a number of sources. From the technique of woodcut printing he derived a wooden matrix into which he engraved images, colouring and texturing the surfaces.

He was commissioned to make a woodcut block to celebrate the award of the Nobel peace prize to Chief Albert Luthuli. He exhibited widely across many continents and represented South Africa at the prestigious Venice and Sao Paulo Biennales. He was granted honorary doctorates by three South African universities and the government awarded him the Order of Ikhamanga (Gold).

For the full Times obituary, visit

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