Mixed Media on Paper, 1982
49cm x 62cm
More Artwork by Christo Coetzee
Christo Coetzee was born in Johannesburg on 24 March 1929. His father died when he was 10 years old, and he was raised by his mother and his two sisters who were 16 and 20 years older than him. Coetzee attended Wits University from 1947 to 1950, and among his classmates were a number of artists with whom he would maintain friendships for many years: Cecil Skotnes, Esmé Berman and Gordon Vorster, among others. Also during his time at Wits, Christo was able to meet Alexis Preller and visit the studio of JH Pierneef. There was no lack of recognition for Coetzee’s original ideas and practices in persevering along the route of “Informal Abstraction”. During the period 1958–1961 his work was exhibited at a number of important international group exhibitions in Osaka and Tokyo (Japan), in New Hampton, Pittsburgh and New York (USA) and in Turin (Italy). In addition, in 1959 the Galerie Stadler requested him to participate in a two-man exhibition with Lucio Fontana in Paris. The latter exhibition was held just before he left to spend about a year in Japan with the help of a British Council Bursary.
A second retrospective exhibition of Coetzee’s works was held in the Pretoria Art Museum in 1983, showing 81 works from 1965 to 1983, and he was awarded a medal of honour from the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns that same year.
A third retrospective took place at the University of Stellenbosch on his seventieth birthday in 1999, and was accompanied by a book illustrating his work from the previous 3 decades. Coetzee died in Tulbagh at the age of 71 in November of 2001. “Coetzee was always searching for magical and transcendental moments while extending the perceptions of art. As he recalled, he endeavoured ‘to push the imagination … just a little bit more towards that particular interface where Art becomes something that it is not.’”