'The Angel of the Lord' signed and dated 'Preller 69' (lower right) oil on fibreglass intaglio 94.5 x 81.5cm (37 3/16 x 32 1/16in).
PROVENANCE: Acquired from the Lidchi Art Gallery, Johannesburg, by the current owner in 1969
EXHIBITED: Johannesburg, Lidchi Art Gallery, Alexis Preller, 22 October - 8 November 1969, cat. no. 25 Pretoria, Pretoria Art Museum, Alexis Preller retrospective, 24 October-26 November 1972, cat. no. 157, illustrated
LITERATURE: E. Berman & K. Nel, Alexis Preller, A Visual Biography, (Johannesburg, 2009), illustrated p. 247 J.F. Marais, 'Alexis Preller' in Artlook 35, (October 1969), illustrated p. 24 with title Angel of the North
"A year ago Preller was on a leisurely visit to Greece; he then felt that he had come to a point in the use of the flat rectangular canvas where his ingenuity could no longer add anything really meaningful to its exploitation... It was in the landslide cliffs and the eroded valleys that the questing eye of the artist suddenly saw that an extra dimension could indeed be added to the portrayal of reality without sacrificing painting to sculpture...
"Preller is at the height of his artistic achievement. His 'final' statement of Africa - disturbingly voluptuous head - cannot be surpassed in completeness, in universality."
Angel of the Lord represents an important moment in Preller's career. He had begun experimenting with intaglio surfaces and continuing with his theme of painted heads was a natural progression. The true innovation, however, was the freeing of the object and image. "The outcome was even more successful than he may have hoped; for, by retaining only a narrow surface area around the recessed form, he released the image from the conventional format. No longer need it be situated within an illusory pictorial space - the image could float free. Moreover, it could be rotated to face in any direction; there was no 'up' or 'down' in the metaphysical dimension in which that mythical entity existed. Preller called it Angel of the Lord."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.F. Marais, 'Alexis Preller' in Artlook 35, (October 1969), p. 22 E. Berman & K. Nel, Alexis Preller, A Visual Biography, (Johannesburg, 2009), p. 247