Times Live | Graham Wood
One of the highlights of this coming weekend’s Turbine Art Fair is, undoubtedly, the collection of Walter Battiss works that will be on show.
While interest in Battiss’s work has been growing for some time, he is enjoying a significant return to favour at the moment. Earlier this month, a Battiss work entitled Medley No1 sold for a record R1250480 at a Strauss & Co auction.
“I’m glad Battiss is getting the recognition that he deserves,” says art dealer Warren Siebrits, who helped a private collector assemble more than 40 of his works over the course of a decade.
“He was a phenomenal colourist and a very good draughtsman. I have personally always rated him very highly.”
Battiss was born in 1906 and his career stretched from the 1930s to his death in 1982. He is widely considered to be South Africa’s first and foremost abstract modernist artist, perhaps most famous for creating the fictional Fook Island, for which he created stamps, currency, maps and even a language.
Battiss was rare, says Siebrits, in that he “actually embraced the other”. He was “expansive” and “not typically Eurocentric” in his attitudes and representation of local cultures. He is at once sophisticated and skilled but, nevertheless, accessible, he says.
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