Gustav (Jack) Kaltenbrun (1928-2012)

I was born in South Africa and spent many years painting portraits of people. I look for subjects who portray a sense of transformation, from one condition to another. I am not concerned with an exact likeness but my portraits must be emotionally charged and filled with symbolic meanings that are expressed in form line and colour.

People over the world have rites connected to the stages of life such as birth and death or going from one status to another.

South African initiation ceremonies celebrate becoming a man in secluded mountainous areas where the youth are subject to gruelling rituals that are poignantly portrayed. In this series called “Bosgefok” a group of young men, in anguish, are wrapped in blankets for several weeks after being circumcised without anaesthetics.

In contrast most European youth have an easy time as they are initiated into manhood. Punk rockers for instance turn into anti-social men and women. They also create unusual hairstyles a form of rite of passage that is universal.

Nuns have a special attraction for me as I see them as people abandoning their previous lifestyle and entering the monastery to dedicate themselves to God. Mother Teresa (whom I met and sketched while in South Africa) is a person one could never forget.

Man in transition often expresses himself in symbols such as the Punk rockers hairstyle. I have worked in metal (mainly in silver) to create symbols inspired by people I have met in the course of my long search for the ‘perfect sitter’.

A retired art lecturer, Jack Kaltenbrun exhibited widely and his work often included satirical sketches of important people.