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Artist of the Month: Alexis Preller

 

Preller was born in Pretoria and attended school there; he initially wanted to study drama but on the advice of J H Pierneef enrolled at the Westminister School of Art in London, in 1934. Preller was influenced and fascinated by the works of Gauguin and Van Gogh and studied many of their work while visiting Europe.

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He travelled extensively and collected influences like masks and artefacts from Egypt and Greece that he personalised. The images that make up his iconography are mysterious; yet they are rooted in a simple visual perception that acquired overtones and symbolical significance as time wore on.

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Preller’s vast imaginative capacity and his artistic genius were fused into a highly individual style that cannot be classified under any of the established art movements. He regarded his objects and style as the metaphors and vehicle he needed to communicate his vision and by so doing created an iconography that was representative of an African identity. Primavera, also known as Allegory of Spring, was inspired by Italian Renaissance artist, Botticelli (1482). Preller has given this well-known metaphor an African identity. Primavera, along with other works by Preller can be seen at Ellerman House.

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