Diamond Bozas – painter, teacher, floral artist, baker and Eshowe native – died this year in July at the age of 95. His mesmerising still lifes grounded in realism, his atmospheric and symbolic KwaZulu- Natal landscapes, and his forays into decorative abstraction, made him a favourite of institutions and discerning collectors, both here and abroad. Having been mentored by Nils Andersen in Durban, and having exhibited with the Natal Society of Artists and with Sigrid Solberg in Eshowe, Bozas trained at the Chelsea School of Art under Raymond Croxon and alongside Patrick Caulfield and Elisabeth Frink.
Visited Paris in 1959 to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. Returned to Paris in 1991.
Still Life with Cabbage was accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1959, and Bozas was elated when he found his painting illustrated in the catalogue. A first wedding anniversary present was a trip to Paris with his mother and his wife, Tasia. Bozas spent much of the time visiting art museums, including the Louvre. He and his wife promised themselves they would go back to Paris again sometime, which they managed in 1991 with a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts. This included free passes to many art museums, of which Bozas took full advantage. As part of his studies towards a Diploma in Design (NDD) at the Chelsea School of Art (1955–1959), Bozas chose to write an essay entitled Masters of Still-life. Two of the artists he singled out for analysis were the Frenchmen Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779) and Paul Cézanne (1839–1906). He became acquainted with their work during visits to public art collections in London, and they became the guiding inspiration for his own still life paintings. ‘As a painter of still life,’ Bozas felt that ‘Chardin shows in two respects a degree of skill which has never been surpassed – in his composition and his handling of light effects’. During his stay in Paris in 1991, on a visit to the Louvre he came across ‘a Chardin, not big, but it held its own against enormous paintings next to it. I went back to it time and time again on subsequent visits. Chardin has left a great impression in me, I still regard him as one of my greats’.
Brendan Bell and Bryony Clark (eds) (2013) Diamond Bozas: Life and Work, Pietermaritzburg: Tatham Art Gallery. Illustrated in colour on page 74.