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CYPRIAN SHILAKOE RETROSPECTIVE (article first published : 2006-03-24)

At the home of the late highly-respected artist Cyprian Shilakoe, the Durban Art Gallery curator made an amazing find. Shut up in the family home which hasn’t been used by family members since the death of both Cyprian¹s parents on June 19, 1983, were a total of eight early Shilakoe works of art. They were never shown on public exhibition.

They include two clay sculptures - the rarest find amongst this collection – titled Foetal figure and Group. There are two acrylic on masonite paintings, titled The Red Woman (and on the verso: Painting of a Doorway) and Big Unfinished Painting.

Three works in wood were also discovered, titled BaPedi girl, Large Unfinished Sculpture and Figure with head turned.

The works were done when the artist was training in art at Rorke¹s Drift and the certificate he received on completion of his fine art course was also discovered. It is signed by his teacher, Otto Lundbohm, and Bishop Dlamini who was the presiding head in charge of the Rorke¹s Drift Mission.

While the discovery of the works was amazing, what was even more extraordinary was the fact that since Cyprian¹s parents¹ death, no-one has ever tried to break into the house and nothing at all has been disturbed. For 22 years, this great national art treasure was safe, waiting to be rediscovered.

All these treasures are now in the Durban Art Gallery and will be seen on the Cyprian Shilakoe Retrospective exhibition which opens on March 29 at 18h00. Also on view will be Shilakoe sculptures and prints on loan from public and private collections in South Africa.

After the exhibition has been on view at the Durban Art Gallery, it will go on a national tour to ten major art museums in South Africa. A comprehensive catalogue will accompany the exhibition on tour with articles written by notable South African art historians.

The Durban Art Gallery is situated on the second floor of the City Hall (entrance in Smith Street, opposite the Playhouse). More information from Musa Archie Mncwabe on 031 311 2275, Phumzile Dlamini on 031 311 2274 or Jill Addleson on 031 332 7286.




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