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Fusing British and South African Landscape Traditions

  15 September 2012     Archived

Stanley Pinker lived between London and Nice from 1952 until 1964 when he returned to Cape Town. 'The Dam at Eenzaamheid', Longkloof would have been produced relatively soon after his return. Interestingly it bears a strong resemblance to the Romantic landscapes favoured by early twentieth-century British landscape painters such as Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Paul Nash with their predilection for autumnal tones, organic forms, scarred earth and occasional architectural ruins, employing Surrealist overtones or Gothic drama to evoke post-war experiences.


Pinker clearly liked the painting enough to hang it on his studio wall where he would see it daily. Perhaps it reminded him of drawing and painting excursions he had made, sometimes in the company of fellow artists like Erik Laubscher and Claude Bouscharain. Eenzaamheid in the Langkloof is near what is now known as the Baviaanskloof Conservation Area, which is part of the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve and a World Heritage Site. Its rugged wilderness, its dramatic geological formations, extraordinary flora and fauna, and the poignant reminders of its Khoisan past would have appealed very strongly both to Pinker’s love of the outdoors and his interest in indigenous cultures.

The painting is a remarkable study in textural contrasts that vary from thin washes with controlled drip effects to thickly textured paint combed with a sharp-toothed implement to create ridged textures in the landscapes. Exceptional control is balanced with imaginative brushwork that animates the painting’s surface in places while exposing bare canvas in others – a testament to the artist’s sense of adventure.

Like his British forebears, Pinker was able to tease from the bare bones of his subject a landscape of rare symbolic significance. Bright sunlight bursts through portentous dark clouds and the dramatic mountains of the Swartberg range and is reflected in the rippled surface of the dam. Subtle colour combinations create an atmosphere of repose. In some ways the lone boat on the shore stands as a powerful evocation of the artist who recently passed away.


Stanley Pinker
The Dam at Eenzaamheid, Longkloof
R400 000 – 600 000


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