Basotho village scene signed 'Krige' (lower left) oil on canvas 70 x 95.6cm (27 9/16 x 37 5/8in).
PROVENANCE: Acquired directly from the artist by the current owner
LITERATURE: J. Fox, The life and art of Francois Krige, (Vlaeberg, 2000), illustrated p.120
Krige visited the Orange Free State in April 1939, along with his brother Uys and other members of The New Group, Walter Battiss and Terence McCaw. The trip had an enormous impact on the young artist, as seen in the present lot, which dates to 1979. He was inspired to sketch the unique landscape, including the dramatic blue mountains seen here, but particularly the Basotho people he encountered. These sketches undoubtedly inspired this later work.
"There was a nostalgic creative return to the years prior to the war, to the Karoo and the Malutis of his youth. Two important works result from his Lesotho period, evocations of his time spent in the mountains in the thirties...In the better of the two we see a naïve genre scene of Basotho gathered in front of a cluster of rondavels which frame the composition. It is a contrived scene in which the figures, all wrapped in traditional blankets, have little relationship to or interaction with one another. Two men pour home-brewed beer, a woman grinds meal while another walks with a clay pot on her head across a pink-and-yellow ground. The painting is stylised with bright Basotho blankets adding a series of patterns to the composition, and there is a romantic, dreamy feel enhanced by the narrow range of hue and colourful layered mountains. The image comes across as a painted memory: the figures even seem to float ethereally above the ground." (Fox, 2000, p.105)
"In Basotho Village Scene Krige presents an idealised vision of a Basotho hamlet in a valley surrounded by mountains there various figures in the painting are busy with characteristic domestic activity. The use of heightened colour and the abstractness of the surrounding landscape obscure the location of the village, while the vague undefined shadows add a timeless aspect to the image. This is a Basotho village remembered and rendered timeless, the people and animals fixed into place, static and immobile. Unlike Alexis Preller's appropriation of Mapoch and Sotho imagery as a vehicle for creating his own unique African symbolism, Krige's paintings only intimate possibilities for symbolic interpretation. In the context of the rest of his work, the presence of an intricate symbolic content seems unlikely. The simplification of forms, the static composition and enhanced colour are conventions employed by Krige to fix an idealised vision feeding off a personal nostalgia of past experience." (Ibid, pp.134-5)