Figuring from within : a study in history, painting and the work of Moses Tladi

Coetsee, Yda Cornelia (2015-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores the significance of landscape painting in my own work and in the work of Moses Tladi, one of the lesser-known SA pioneer artists working in the oil painting convention. Through a Romantic lens, I argue that Tladi’s paintings exist as record of his experiences, thoughts and emotions, making use of a hermeneutics ‘from within’, rather than one aimed at Realist exposition. While employing such a hermeneutics in my own practice, I seek out points of connection between Tladi and myself, as well as explore if and to what degree our different socio-political circumstances shape our practices. In part one of the thesis I sketch a narrative backdrop to the era in which Tladi lived and of his relationship to his patrons, mentors and the establishment. I explore his work in relation to popular conventions at the time, matters of modernism and abstraction, as well as to some degree how the landscape genre functions in terms of class. The overall argument is divided in two parts, that of the metaphorical ‘Garden’ and that of the ‘Wilderness’. With this divide I aim to reveal how Tladi employs the transcendent both in the sublime expanse of Sekhukhuneland and in his domestic, everyday reality. The ideological relationship between the Garden and Wilderness is examined in terms of theories on landscape, imperialism and the Lutheran missionary project. In the second part I describe my own work and discuss the contribution it makes. While alluding to many of the devices already discussed in Tladi’s work, I sketch the context in which my own paintings were made and explain some of my stylistic and curatorial choices. In demonstrating how our techniques and methodologies overlap, I aim to cristallise some of the theoretical themes explored.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie handel oor die belang van landskapskilder in my eie werk en in the werk van Moses Tladi, een van Suid-Afrika se minder bekende pionier-kunstenaars in die olieverftradisie. Ek argumenteer, deur ’n Romantiese blik, dat Tladi se werk as rekord verskyn van sy ervarings, gedagtes en emosies. In hierdie opsig is sy hermeneutiek ‘inwaarts’ gekeer, eerder as gefokus op die Realistiese ontbloting van sekere sosiale kwessies. Terwyl ek in my eie skilderpraktyk ook van so ’n hermeneutiek gebruik maak, soek ek raakpunte tussen my en Tladi se werk onderwyl ek ondersoek of, en tot watter mate, ons verskillende sosio-politiese omstandighede ons werk vorm. In Deel Een van die tesis skets ek ’n narratiewe agtergrond tot die era waarin Tladi geleef het en kyk na sy verhouding met sy beskermhere (“patrons”), sy mentors en die kunsstigting. Ek ondersoek Tladi se werk aan die hand van populêre konvensies van sy tyd sowel as kwessies van Modernisme en abstraksie. Ek kyk ook vlugtig na hoe die landskap-genre ten opsigte van sosiale stand funksioneer. My algehele argument het twee afdelings, die metafoor van die ‘Tuin’, en dié van die ‘Wildernis’. Met hierdie verdeling beoog ek om te wys hoe Tladi transendente aspekte voorstel in die uitgestrekte, ontsagwekkende landskappe van Sekhukhuneland, maar ook in sy alledaagse, sosiale realiteit. Die ideologiese verhouding tussen die Tuin en die Wildernis word verder ondersoek ten opsigte van teorieë oor landskap, imperialisme en die sendingpraktyke van die Lutherse Kerk. In Deel Twee beskryf ek my eie werk sowel as die bydrae wat dit maak. Ek beskryf die konteks waarin sommige van die skilderye gemaak is, bespreek hul inhoud, en kyk na spesifieke stilistiese en kuratoriale keuses. Deurentyd raak ek aan die tegnieke en temas wat alreeds bespreek is in die afdeling oor Tladi. Deur te demonstreer hoe my en Tladi se tegniek en metodologie oorvleuel, hoop ek om die teoretiese temas wat reeds ondersoek is, te kristalliseer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96974
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