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Cyril Coetzee b. 1959
Cyril Coetzee is a largely figurative artist with roots in both European and African traditions. His multi-layered, emblematic and chromatically rich oil paintings first emerged in the company of other neo-expressionists and figurative post-modernists who received media attention in South Africa during the 1980s, in the context of the quest of young South Africans to find a voice in the stifling atmosphere of Apartheid.
Coetzee is deeply interested in the meeting and cross-pollination of cultures, beliefs, mythologies and histories. Both intensely personal, yet often reflecting contemporary social events and concerns, his works make striking use of the human figure as a vehicle of expression and, sometimes, parodic comment - aspects related to his ongoing interest in portraiture.
Coetzee has exhibited widely in South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, India and the US. He was invited to hold solo retrospective exhibitions at the University of South Africa Gallery, Pretoria, and the Getrude Posel Gallery at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (1993).
In 1996 he was commissioned by the University of the Witwatersrand to paint a 28 square metre canvas for the William Cullen Library, an internationally renowned archive, for the 75th celebrations of the University, which was unveiled by Judge Goldstone in 1999. A large format art book focussing on the painting was published, elaborating on the themes, the commissioning and related works.
Having painted a much-publicised portrait of Nelson Mandela at the height of the latter's presidential career, Coetzee was commissioned to paint a wedding portrait of Nelson Mandela and Graša Machel, which hangs together with the presidential portrait in their home in Johannesburg.
Other portraits include well-known dignitaries such as Hans Schreiber, Colin Bundy, Anton Rupert, Conrad Strauss and George Bizos.
His works are included in various public and private collections in South Africa, America, Australia, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Canada, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Standard Bank in London.
Coetzee has been invited to give various lectures on Art History and on his own work in South Africa, England, the United States and Canada.
Awards won include the: Vita Art Award (1993), the Rhodian 'Guy Butler' Creative Writer (1983), the Purvis Prize for Fine Art (Rhodes University, 1983), first prize for the NBS National Inter-Art School Competition (1982), the Kendall Bursary (1982) and Rhodes University Academic Colours (1981).
Coetzee has served as a Fine Art lecturer at Port Elizabeth Technikon and as an Art History lecturer at University of the Witwatersrand. He has been a full-time artist since 1990.
He has a Masters degree in Fine Art, a BA Honours degree in English (distinction). To further his research into colour theory he has also studied at the Tobias School of Art in Sussex, and at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
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