Scout is pleased to welcome its new client, “the man who painted Mandela”, aka Cyril Coetzee. Coetzee was commissioned not once, but twice, to paint the portrait of the late Nelson Mandela for the former president’s private collection. The first of these portraits was completed during Mandela’s presidential term and deemed by Madiba himself as his favourite. This portrait was then sent to the rest of the world in the form of the International Commemorative Postage Stamp for Mandela’s 90th birthday.

Flash forward twenty years, and Coetzee is again the artist of choice for dignitaries and prominent names in global affairs and commerce. Most recently, Strive Masiyiwa, another African making his mark on the continent and the world, has been captured on canvas by the portraitist.

Coetzee’s paintings are not just visual masterpieces, they are an intriguing encapsulation of the subject’s individual soul and essence. Coetzee conveys each subject in a way that says to the viewer: “I’m thinking something, but you don’t quite know what” – creating feeling of mystery and connection between subject and viewer. His portraits are emotional, enticing and personal.

This talent is what has made Coetzee one of South Africa’s most prominent and award-winning portrait artists. He has painted renowned academics, businesspeople, bankers and legal professionals, such as Matthew Phosa, Colin Bundy, Anton Rupert, Graça Machel, Conrad Strauss and George Bozis, to name but a few.

He was chosen by the prestigious Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town to be the artist-in-residence from 2018 to 2020. The William Cullen Library, an internationally renowned archive, at the University of the Witwatersrand houses a 28m2 canvas by the artist.

Outside of South Africa, Coetzee’s talent is recognised across the world. His works have been exhibited globally in a variety of public and private collections, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Standard Bank in London, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Madiba Gallery in New York, Gallery 505 in Washington DC, and Lalit Kala Academy of Arts in New Delhi.

Coetzee also happens to be a skilled curator, respected art historian and lecturer. He has curated several exhibitions for the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg and has lectured both locally and internationally, in South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Switzerland. In 2006, he penned the much-lauded monograph on the work of Harold Voigt, The Poetry of Sight.

Although he currently works full-time as an artist, he hasn’t forgotten his academic background entirely, hosting regular painting workshops and master classes throughout South Africa. He is much sought after as both a teacher and painter of note, making his meaningful mark on lives – and on the South African artistic landscape – just as he captures them on canvas.

Says Scout’s Director, Lauren Shantall: “The age-old art of portraiture has renewed cachet in our age of selfie saturation. We are privileged to be able to represent Cyril Coetzee, whose work epitomizes excellence. If you’re considering commissioning a portrait, then Cyril’s renown makes him the default choice.”

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