By stylising its features and modifying its general character, he integrated the Angel concept into his iconographic continuum. Although the resultant image is entirely original, it has subtle links to several sources. There is, for instance, a resemblance to certain typical features of Yoruba masks, one of which Preller owned. The wide-open, almond-shaped eye, the cicatrised markings on the cheek, the full lips and the suggestion of a natural beard are all reminiscent of Yoruba conventions.
The artificial, ritual beard – Egyptian symbol of divine authority – has been a significant element of all the Young King images, while the stylised shape that sweeps back from the head emanates from the flowing hair that had evolved into the streaming wake behind the Winds. It had now been formalised, creating strange wing-like projections that propel the Angel through the air.
The Angel King and other versions of the theme are mythographic icons. They represent the ultimate condition of the mythical god-kings, on final release from any bondage to the earthly world.i
i Esmé Berman and Karel Nel, Alexis Preller: Collected Images, Shelf Publishing, 2009, pages 247-249.
Esmé Berman and Karel Nel, Alexis Preller: Collected Images, Johannesburg, 2009, illustrated on page 249.