GERARD SEKOTO [ 1913 –1993 ]
GERARD SEKOTO was born on a mission-station near Middelburg where he received his education and subsequently trained as a teacher at the Anglican Teacher’s Training College in 1933. It was during this brief teaching period that Sekoto came into contact with new artistic influences and decided to become an artist himself. He received encouragement from Reverend Roger Castle of St Peter’s School who taught part time art classes for interested Bantu students.
In 1947, following his first one-man exhibition in Johannesburg, Sekoto amassed enough interest and funding to travel to Paris. However, life in Paris was by no means easy for the struggling artist. In 1948/9 he was included on an ‘Overseas Exhibition of South African Art’. As the only black artist on the show he began to receive international attention and Guildhall Gallery bought a few of his canvas works. Encouraged by growing popularity, Sekoto set to work in earnest, painting local Parisian scenes and nostalgic recollections of the Township scenes he remembered from back home.
Sekoto approached the subject matter in his new Bohemian scene in much the same way he did his early Township scenes, yet he modified his personal style by adopting a number of conventions that were fashionable in Parisian painting. As a result, he became somewhat displaced, teetering between two disparate cultures. Instead of painting the Township scenes that he knew (and lived in), his work began to present an idealized dream of home where the emotional conviction began to recede.
Born: Botshabelo, near Middelburg, Eastern Transvaal, 1913.
DIED: Nogent-sur-Marne, Paris, France, 1993.
Selected Exhibitions: 1939: First one-man exhibition, Pretoria. 1948: Overseas Exhibition of South African Art, Tate Gallery. 1952: van Riebeeck Tercent Exhibition, Cape Town. 1962: Salon d’Automne, Paris. 1966: Rep Fest Exhibition, Pretoria.
Awards: 1938: Won second prize for painting submitted in the May Esther Bedford Art Competition, Fort Hare University.
Collections: South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Johannesburg art Gallery; Pretoria Art Museum; William Humphreys Gallery, Kimberley; Schlesinger Organisation.
Berman, E (1974); Art and Artists of South Africa; A.A. Balkema; pp 268-270.