Artist Feature: 

Cecil Skotnes initially began his career as a painter, often painting landscapes. Skotnes aimed to move beyond the motifs captured by his predecessors like Frans Oerder, Pieter Wenning, and Hugo Naudé in their depictions of the South African landscape. Skotnes was encouraged by his friend and art collector, Egon Guenther, to pursue printmaking instead. Skotnes gave up painting and began carving a unique artistic identity in wood after Guenther gifted him a kit of wood engraving tools.

Cecil Edwin Frans Skotnes
R2 500 000 – R3 000 000

Skotnes’ earliest woodcuts were of landscapes and showed the stylistic influences of those by Rudolf Scharpf and Willi Baumeister. However, he strove to develop a visual language that was distinctly South African. During the 1960s, Skotnes expanded on the potential of the woodcut as a medium, focusing on the possibilities of the wood block functioning as an artwork in its own accord. The portfolio ‘The assassination of Shaka’ exposed his artistic skills as a woodcut authority and artist. His recognition that the woodblocks also represented sculpture works led to the production of larger incised panels. The present panel is a superior example and represents a painted version of his creative play and spatial tension. With his advanced colour management, the textured panels became important works of art in their own right. This newly adopted technique initiated his departure from landscapes, with Skotnes commencing to concentrate on expressing the human figure in art.

Inspired by the works of the German expressionists, the Cubists, and his enthusiasm for African art, Skotnes’ images took on anthropomorphic qualities derived from the angular forms, vibrant colours, and tonal contrasts of the African environment. Skotnes created compositions filled with highly abstracted and boldly cut figures that were underpinned with explorations regarding historical events as well as marginalized South African histories.

The palette of ochres, reds and browns used to stain the wood, create a sense of warmth and are reminiscent not only of African tribal art but also the hues of the African bushveld. It is not uncommon to encounter figures that are portrayed larger than life, thus looming over the viewer, rendering a sense of gravitas from his large panels. The ambiguity present in Skotnes’ panels compels the viewer to contemplate the complexity of the human dilemma.

Viewing opens on Monday 14th of November until Saturday 19th of November between 10am and 4.30pm. 

For any assistance with registration please contact us on +27118803125 or email and the relevant department specialist will be happy to assist.

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