Rust-en-Vrede Gallery

Current Exhibitions: Art Social:Quality Time, Annelie Janse van Rensburg, Barry van der Westhuizen, Garth Meyer and Ian Glenny (1952-2023)

Walter Battiss Plates and Prints

The Walter Battiss Company

Dates: 03.06.2014 – 25.06.2014

When an artist is known as the Bushman Painter and the Gentle Anarchist in the same brushstroke, there is little wonder that his work remains as popular and relevant today as it was thirty years ago. While Battiss’ open-minded approach to life and art may have shocked some more conservative viewers in his lifetime, the increasing popularity of his work today leaves no doubt that his work was nothing less than art ahead of its time.

He has earned critical acclaim across the world. And, locally, he was also one of the first artists to recognize the importance of South Africa’s indigenous art and rock artists. He is generally considered to be the foremost South African Abstract painter and known of the creator of the quirky FOOK Island concept.

This “island of the imagination” was a materialization of Battiss’ philosophy for which he created a map, imaginary people, plants, animals, a history as well as a set of postage stamps, currency, passports and driver’s licenses. He created a Fookian language with a full alphabet as well. This utopian ‘island’ was a composite of the many islands he – blended together in his customary imaginative fashion. Many of the Fook island images are on display tonight.

In 1981, he donated all his work to the then newly opened Walter Battiss museum in his birthplace – Somerset East. He died in August 1982. In recognizing the importance of Battiss’ art, the Walter Battiss Company recently started making his work available to the public in a variety of media ranging from prints to wallpaper to ceramics and textiles. The incomes from the sales of these works help maintain the Walter Battiss museum.

Thank you to Eduard du Plessis from the Walter Battiss Company for your help with this exhibition.

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