top of page

Gerard Sekoto

Artist 88 Gerard Sekoto African Modernism Painting

Gerard Sekoto (born 1913) is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of African Modernism. Sekoto was an artist who painted, drew and was a musician. A qualified teacher Sekoto left teaching and move to Sophiatown to pursue a career as a full-time artist.

He left South Africa in 1947 to further his art training in France and engage with the School of Paris that had been so influential in the development of South African Modern art.

Having managed to overcome the colour bar in a society that was racially divided well before the advent of Apartheid, Sekoto found himself in Paris. Sekoto saw Paris as the ‘artistic fountain’ and ‘mecca’ of the art world.

Paris represented artistic liberation for Sekoto – a place where he could work and succeed on the same terms as any other man, irrespective of the colour of his skin.

In spite of the oppressive nature of life for a black artist living in South Africa during Apartheid, Sekoto managed to achieve a fair amount of recognition during his early years living in Sophiatown, District Six and Eastwood respectively.

His paintings from this period evoke the vibrancy and energy of the cultural activity and tension of the townships and serve as historical records of a way of life as these areas were subsequently destroyed.

Sekoto was recognized for his ability to capture the humanity and realism of everyday scenes, giving dignity to Black South Africans, without the distance that separated celebrated European artists at the time, from their subjects.


bottom of page