Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006)
'Zulu Maiden' signed and dated 'TRETCHIKOFF SA 58' (lower right) oil on canvas 75.5 x 65.5cm (29 3/4 x 25 13/16in).
PROVENANCE Sale, Stephan Welz & Co Johannesburg, 17 November 2009, lot 380
EXHIBITED Cape Town, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Tretchikoff: The People's Painter, 26 May 26 September 2011
LITERATURE A.Lamprecht (ed.), Tretchikoff: The People's Painter, (Johannesburg, 2011), illustrated p.170 B.Gorelick Incredible Tretchikoff: Life of an Artist and Adventurer, (United Kingdom, 2013), p.222
Shortly after Vladimir Tretchikoff's arrival in South Africa, which would soon become his home, Tretchikoff became fascinated by the diverse group aesthetics. Cultivating his own African visual language, he created numerous portraits of African figures. This stylized African image asserted a mediated and glamorised Africanness, allowing his audience to admire the beauty of his subjects from a distance. These 'exotic' images did not challenge nor confront the notions associated with tribalism, neither the atrocities of the apartheid system, which by this time was firmly entrenched in South Africa.
Tretchikoff chose his sitters amongst the common people in Cape Town and some were believed to be his domestic workers, which he dressed in traditional African clothes. This artificial set-up is indicative of the artist's disregard for accuracy, rendering these ethnic portraits as pastiches. A variety of visual elements pertaining to different cultures were assembled together for effect. Zulu Maiden wears a brown isicholo (headdress worn by married Zulu women), however this traditional item clashes with her European gold earrings and necklace, as well as with her Xhosa choker. It has been suggested that the gold earrings worn by the model, were not authentic African jewels, but were rather his wife's hoops, accentuating the stylized glamour created in this portrait. It is the rich textures and hues of blue worked into the sitters face, complemented by the bold yet embracing shades of red dispersed though out the background, with which Tretchikoff successfully renders a poised and graceful Zulu Maiden.
BIBLIOGRAPHY B.Gorelick, Incredible Tretchikoff: Life of an Artist and Adventurer, (United Kingdom, 2013), pp.217-226