Cecil Edwin Frans Skotnes (South African, 1926-2009)
Shaka the God signed 'C Skotnes' (lower right) painting on incised panel 91.5 x 90.5cm (36 x 35 5/8in).
Lots 105-107 date from circa 1972, when the artist was working on the Shaka Epic. This series engrossed Skotnes and he worked on the project for over fifteen months, making drawings, studies and the one hundred and fifty blocks needed for printing.
Shaka Zulu (c.1787-1828) was the most famous and influential Zulu king who, by the end of his ten year reign, ruled over 250,000 people. He was a military genius who also is revered as the founder of the Zulu nation. At the very height of his power he was assassinated by his two half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana.
The artist said of his subject:
"The Shaka epic was visualised after I became acquainted with the main elements of his story. It started as an interest in the man, and became an obsession to give him his rightful place as the most important historical figure of the first half of the nineteenth century.
"There had been an attempt by both black and white - Dingaan and the British - to smother his importance, to turn him into a vague monster whose impact on the times and the future was equally as vague. I intended to rectify that and present him as the great figure he was. He appealed to me for several reasons: hero in the classical mould, warrior, statesman, 'creator of the Zulu empire', tactician and commander.
"Owing to his action the whole of the tribal life of Southern Africa, even as far as the great lakes of central Africa, was redistributed, thus laying the foundations for firstly the white move into the interior and subsequently the establishment of the various present-day black states, but I also wished to maintain the legendary aspects of his character."
"I was totally absorbed by the man and loved him as I probed his story. He seemed to laugh at civilization as we know it. He indicated that the new Africa would take what it wanted from our world and use it for its own purposes".
A similar work to the present lot, U Shaka (or Shaka the God), hangs in the collection of the Pretoria Art Museum (illustrated in Harmsen, 1996, p.33).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Harmsen (ed.), Cecil Skotnes, (Cape Town, 1996), pp.32-34