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About The Artist

Artist Photo

Artist Biography

The tradition of black artists in South Africa has, until recently, been neglected. However, in the last ten years a new art history has developed from a growing awareness of the omissions of the past. At the forefront of this reassessment is the work of Gerard Sekoto.

Born on 9 December 1913 at Botshabelo, a German Lutheran Mission Station in the then Easten Transvaal, (now Bophuthatswane).

When Sekoto was five years old, his father was posted by the Lutheran Church to their mission school on the farm Wonderhoek, also in the Middelburg District. Here Sekoto spent his most formative years. He nurtured the memories of his rural childhood for the rest of his life, and in many of his letters he dwells at great length on the experiences of his youth and early family life. The love and security he was shown as a child were a source of solace and strength during the difficult years of his exile.

Sekoto started drawing early but did not have access to colour pencils until he was a teenager. The introduction to colour revolutionized his work. Periods of residence in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, District Six, Cape Town, and Eastwood, Pretoria produced vibrant and powerful pieces evoking both the colourful cultural activity and the tensions of the townships. The paintings from this time are historical records of a now extinct way of life. All three areas were bulldozed in the fifties and sixties. In 1947 Sekoto made the momentous decision to leave the country of birth and travel to Paris - like many voluntary and involuntary exiles, he was never to return to South Africa. France brought new inspiration and Sekoto re-worked many subjects and explored different themes, al characterized by a deep sense of humanity.

Towards the end of his life, Sekoto's art increasingly gained recognition mainly through the pioneering work of Barbara Lindop. Her research brought to life many paintings thought to have been lost, and, through her correspondence with Sekoto, she was able to confirm details of his life before his death in 1993. In this book, Lindop introduces the extraordinary life story of Gerard Sekoto accompanied by full colour plates of his most powerful, stirring works of art.

Artist CV

Artist Photo

1913: Born 9 December at Lutheran Mission School at Botshabelo near Middelburg, Transvaal.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2013: Gerard Sekoto: Song for Sekoto, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg

1999: Drawings by Gerard Sekoto from the Sowetan Collection - Solo exhibition, Standard Bank Gallery (January)

1989:

  • Retrospective Exhibition, Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • Gertrude Posel Exhibition, Johannesburg
  • Rheinhold Cassirer Gallery, Cassirer Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg (February)
  • Paris and South African Artists 1850 – 1965, South African National Gallery, Cape Town

    1988:

  • Cassirer Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg
  • South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery

    1987: Johannesburg Art Gallery

    1986:

  • Young South African Artists, Academy Gallery, Paris
  • Participated in "Voices in Exile" a touring Exhibition of South African Artists in exile: Washington DC, USA

    1984: South African National Gallery

    1980:

  • Maison de I' Afrique, Paris
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg

    1978: Galerie Art Premier, Paris

    1975: Atlantic Gallery, Burg Street, Cape Town

    1973:

  • Gallerie du Marais, Bourges, Paris (exhibition with Wilson Tiberio)
  • Pretoria Art Museum

    1970:

  • Galleri BB, Denmark
  • Gallery Randers, Stockholm

    1969: Christiane Colin Galerie, Île de Saint Louis, Paris

    1968:

  • South African Association of Arts, Pretoria (opened by J le Grand, Delegue Generale de l’Alliance Francaise)
  • Senegalese Embassy, Paris
  • Galerie Marthe Nochy, Paris

    1967: Théâtre Daniel Sorano, Dakar, Senegal (exhibition with Wilson Tiberio)

    1966:

  • First International Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal
  • Republic Festival Exhibition, Pretoria
  • Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

    1965: Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

    1964:

  • Exhibition of African paintings at Nemours, France.
  • Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

    1963:

  • Durban Art Gallery
  • Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

    1962: Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

    1961:

  • Galleria Santo Stefano, Venice
  • Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

    1960:

  • Salon d'Automne, Paris
  • Lawrence Adler Gallery, Johannesburg

    1958 - 1959: Lawrence Adler Gallery, Johannesburg

    1956: Galerie Art Premier, Paris

    1955

  • Petit Palais, Paris
  • Lawrence Adler Gallery, Johannesburg
  • Seventh Arts Festival, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • Galerie Reflets de Paris, Vichy

    1954: lD Bookseller's Gallery, Church Square, Cape Town

    1953:

  • Galerie Saint Placide, Paris
  • Bulawayo, Rhodesia

    1952:

  • Galerie Heyrene with Michel-Marie Puolin and Phillipe Marie Picard
  • One-man exhibition at the Galerie Saint Placide
  • Van Riebeeck Exhibition, Cape Town

    1951: Exhibited in Stockholm, Sweden at Galerie Rålambshof with five other artists.

    1950: One-man exhibition at the Vincent Gallery (Christies Gallery), Pretoria

    1949: One-man exhibition at Galerie Else-Clausen, Paris

    1948 – 1950:

  • Participated in the South African Touring Exhibition that opened at the Tate Gallery, London. (travelled from London to Belgium, France, Canada, USA, Netherlands – 1948/50)
  • United States of America, South African National Gallery, Paris

    1948:

  • One-man exhibition of 25 paintings at the French Colonial House, opened by W.C. Parminter, Minister of the South African Legation in Paris. Two paintings sold.
  • Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg Exhibited: Overseas Exhibition of South African Art travels to the Musée Galerie in Paris

    1947:

  • One-man Exhibition at Vincent Gallery (The Christies Gallery), Pretoria
  • One-man Exhibition at the Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg

    1946: Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg

    1945: Joint exhibition with the sculptor, Louis Maurice at the Jerome Gallery, Cape Town

    1944:

  • New Group Exhibition at the Argus Gallery, Cape Town
  • Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg

    1943:

  • Fifth Anniversary Exhibition of the New Group at the Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg
  • Salisbury

    1942: South African Academy of Art, Duncan Hall, Johannesburg

    1941: South African Academy of Art, Selborne Hall, Johannesburg

    1940:

  • South African Academy of Art, Selborne Hall, Johannesburg
  • Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg

    1939:

  • 20th Exhibition of the South African Art Academy (two works), Selborne Hall, Johannesburg
  • Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg - along with some of Brother Roger’s students. Various works sold.

    AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

    1928: Won first prize for designing a badge for the school blazer - rewarded with a bible and five shillings.

    1937: Won second prize in the 'May Esther Bedford Art Competition', organized by Fort Hare University College. First prize went to George Pemba.

    1948: Sekoto’s painting used on poster for the Exhibition of South African Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture held at the Tate Gallery, London, UK etc.

    1959: Sekoto’s poster chosen for the Second Congress of Negro Writers and Artists in Rome

    1964: Awarded a prize at the Exhibition of African Art, Nemours, France

    1968: Awarded XIXe Grand Prix International de Peinture de Deauville

    1989: Honorary Doctorate awarded by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

    1989: Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

    2003: Awarded the Order of the Ikhamanga (A South African Honour usually awarded by the President of South Africa for achievements in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sports)

    BOOKS PUBLISHED ON SEKOTO

    Barbara Lindop, Gerard Sekoto, Randburg: Dictum Publishing, 1988

    Barbara Lindop, Sekoto : The Art of Gerard Sekoto, Pavilion, London, 1995, ISBN 978-1-85793-461-8

    N. Chabani Manganyi, A Black Man Called Sekoto, Witwatersrand University Press, January 1996, ISBN 978-1-86814-291-0

    Spiro, Lesley, Gerard Sekoto: Unsevered Ties, Johannesburg Art Gallery, 1.11.1989-10.2.1990, The Gallery (1989), ISBN 978-0-620-14213-7

    Chabani Manganyi, I Am an African: The Life and Times of Gerard Sekoto, Witwatersrand University Press; illustrated edition (Aug 1 2004), ISBN 978-1-86814-400-6