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Narrative

With the exception of T'kama-Adamastor, Coetzee's large canvas for the William Cullen Library, the iconography of which was based for the most part on André Brink's novella Cape of Storms: The First Life of Adamastor, the artist's narrative paintings are not illustrative of texts or stories. First and foremost they evolve according to their own logic of visual suggestion and literary association, and only in those terms may invoke pre-existing narratives. Although in works like Revelations (1983) or The Enormous Room (1990) there are clear references for instance to sacred texts, the underlying concern of the works is really poetic and exploratory rather than traditionally illustrative.

As Coetzee put it in the 1993 catalogue for an exhibition of his work at the UNISA Art Gallery:"Large parts of a given work, prompted initially by mood, intuition or visual excitement alone, were often fully established on the canvas before the theme announced itself to me. This verbal moment of birth then allowed me, sometimes via departures into reading or writing, to fashion the work further and bring it to completion. The opening moves of a painting are really a visual strategy for raising questions, to which the dialogue of the ensuing process provides an answer of sorts."

Columbine

oil on board,
34 x 28 cm,
2003,
Private Collection, Johannesburg
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Niombo

oil on canvas,
90 x 70 cm,
2000,
Private Collection, Oxford
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Tobias

oil on board,
40 x 33 cm,
2002,
Private Collection, Johannesburg
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The four moments of the sun

oil on canvas,
130 x 110 cm,
2008,
i-art for sale
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Niombo: Burying the Double

oil on canvas,
100cm x 100cm,
1991,
Collection of the JHB Art Gallery
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Zarathustra's Hat

oil on canvas,
100cm x 100cm,
1991,
Collection of the University of South Africa
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Ship of Fools

oil on canvas,
100cm x 100cm,
1991,
Durban Art Gallery
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The Enormous Room

oil on canvas,
104cm x 104cm,
1991,
Collection of the University of Bloemfontein
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Fat Tuesday

oil on canvas,
100cm x100cm,
1991,
Private Collection
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Children of the Sun

oil on canvas,
100cm x 100cm,
1990,
Private Collection
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The Dolorous Wound

oil on canvas,
100cm x 85cm,
1990,
Collection of the University of the Witwatersrand
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Jachin and Boaz

oil on panel,
110cm x 95cm,
1983,
Private Collection
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Revelations

oil on canvas,
102cm x 85cm,
1983,
Collection of the University of South Africa
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Couple in an Interior

oil on canvas,
100cm x 72cm,
1981,
Collection of Rhodes University
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Tears of Camões I

pencil and pastel on card,
95cm x 70cm,
1999,
Private Collection
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Tears of Camões II

pencil and pastel on card,
95cm x 70cm,
1999,
Private Collection
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The Orientalists

oil on canvas,
110cm x 98cm,
2005,
Private Collection
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Tree of Memory

oil on canvas,
120cm x 90cm,
2001,
Collection of the Artist
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Night Journey

oil on canvas,
95cm x 80cm,
1992,
Private Collection
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Mapscreen

oil on canvas,
95cm x 80cm,
2003,
Private Collection
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Heart and Hand

oil on canvas,
115cm x 110cm,
2001,
Collection of the Artist
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The green parrot

oil on canvas,
120 x 100 cm,
2004,
Private Collection, Cape Town
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T'kama-Adamastor

oil on canvas,
8,64m x 3,26m,
1999,
William Cullen Library,
University of the Witwatersrand
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