South African artist, Gerard Sekoto, grew up in Botshabelo, a German Lutheran missionary station close to Middelburg in Mpumalanga. His father was a preacher and his uncle was commissioned to assist with translating the Lutheran Bible into Northern Sotho. His childhood was filled with love and security and he held his memories very dear. He started drawing from an early age, but only gained access to coloured pencils in his teens. It revolutionised his work. When he moved to Johannesburg, he also befriended artists Alexis Preller and Judit Glukman, who taught him to work in oil. He depicted township life across South Africa, moving around constantly, and his paintings documented an extinct part of our history, as three of the places he worked in were bulldozed in the fifties and sixties, after Sekoto left for self-imposed exile in Paris in 1947.
In order to pay his art school fees and living expenses, the South African artist became South African musician and Gerard Sekoto had to work as a pianist in a trendy Parisian nightclub. He performed vocally, played piano and composed and several of his works were published by Les Editions Musicales. His songs reflect his emotional state, all alone in exile, but it also embodies the courage of an artist that dared survive among foreigners.
His paintings can now be seen at the Wits Art Galleries and the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. In his lifetime, Sekoto exhibited in Paris, Stockholm, Venice, Washington, Senegal and South Africa.
Through her correspondence with Sekoto before his death, Barbara Lindop confirmed many details of his life story and also pioneered increasing international recognition of his work. She published a book with full colour plates on the life of Gerard Sekoto.
Gerard Sekoto is globally recognized as one of South Africa's most important contemporary artists.