Cecil Skotnes, Icon for Makana, On the island, carved wood panel, metal and polychrome paint, 1992, 82 by 122 cm. Icon for Makana, On the island
Lot 124W
Cecil Edwin Frans Skotnes (South African, 1926-2009) Icon for Makana, on the island in original artist's frame
Sold for £22,500 (US$ 37,818) inc. premium
Lot Details
Cecil Edwin Frans Skotnes (South African, 1926-2009)
Icon for Makana, on the island
signed 'C.SKOTNES' (lower right)
oil on incised panel
99 x 122cm (39 x 48 1/16in).
in original artist's frame


    Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, 1997
    A private collection, The Netherlands

    Makanda Nxele, known as "Makana", was a Xhosa prophet and warrior who led an attack against the British at Grahamstown in 1819. He was imprisoned on Robben Island, where he later drowned during an escape attempt. However, his dedication to uniting the Xhosa in the struggle against the British Empire earned him great acclaim and mythic status in subsequent generations, leading to calls by political prisoners in the twentieth century to rename Robben Island "Makana".

    Skotnes undertook a series of carved panels which together form a visual tribute to the historic leader; Icon for Makana, on the island is a key episode, representing the great warrior's internment on the island. In common with other series (such as his Shaka series) which focus on a single historical or mythic figure, Freida Harmsen asserts that while they may be based on a narrative, "Skotnes does not merely illustrate the text that inspired him; he recreates it" through a combination of "aesthetically principled formalism" and a "psychological, metaphysical, or spiritual message". The polished brass framing of the work – similar to the treatment of many of his other "icons" – provides both an unusual finish, and an additional sense of reverence, to the subject.

    F. Harmsen, Cecil Skotnes (Cape Town, 1996), p.32

Saleroom notices

  • Bears Goodman Gallery label (verso)
  1. Customer Services (UK)
    Customer Services
    Work +44 20 7447 7447
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7401
  2. New Bond Street
    General Enquiries
  3. Shipping (UK)
    Logistics - Shipping
    Work +44 20 7468 8302
    FaxFax: + 44 20 7629 9673
Similar items