Self Portrait of the artist dated '14.10.47' verso oil on canvasboard 45.7 x 35.6 cm. (18 x 14 in.)
PROVENANCE: Acquired from the artist Mr J. Zurnamer; By direct descent to the current owner.
LITERATURE: B. Lindop, 'The Art of Gerard Sekoto', London, 1995, illustrated p.127.
The present painting is the only recorded self portrait from the pre-exile period. The likeness to Sekoto at this time, and from photos, is striking and certainly reflects the uncertainty and hurt, that he quite clearly felt, as he grappled with the realisation that black people were considered inferior on account of their skin colour. Something he could never understand nor accept.
Sekoto had already become well recognised as an artist for in 1940 the Johannesburg Art Gallery had bought his work 'Yellow Houses', the first work by a black artist to be acquired by the gallery. However, when Sekoto went to see his picture hanging he was refused entry to the building and had to pretend to be a cleaner to view the work.
In 1947, shortly after he painted this portrait he left South Africa for exile in France, he never returned to the land of his birth.
We are grateful to Dr. Babara Lindop for her assistance in the preparation of this catalogue entry.