Absa Art Hot Spot
Empowering African fine arts
Meet the artists
Kevin Roberts received his Higher Diploma in Fine Arts from the Pretoria Technikon, South Africa in 1990.
He launched his career as a painter and sculptor after having won prestigious awards such as the Schweickerdt Prize for the most promising student in 1987, and in 1988 he won the Innes Aab- Tamsen Prize for Painting.
Roberts’ fine paintings, in which he explored intricate patterning, craftsmanship and elements of ‘the beautiful’, were richly layered with recurring symbols. After having won the Volkskas Bank L’Atelier Competition, he was also awarded the Kempton Park/Tembisa Fine Art Award in 1996.
In 1999, Roberts’ work was represented in London at the artLONDON ’99 Fair in Chelsea. In 2000, the first of several solo exhibitions was presented at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, where his work received widespread acclaim.
His works are represented in all the major public art collections in South Africa. In 2009, Kevin sadly passed away after a battle with cancer.
Kevin Roberts has the unique ability to weave together colour, pattern and the pictorial surface. What is then left is figures, images, objects and surroundings that Kevin painstakingly depicts, and the symbolic meanings that they suggest. Kevin is careful not to interpret his own work too closely, believing that there must be space for each person viewing the work to construct their own meanings from the paintings.
Kevin’s paintings essentially seek to evoke a sense of mystery that resonates with the viewer or to suggest a poetic promise of meaning, but never closure. However, recurring symbols throughout his artworks provide abundant material for interpretation. The woman is resting calm and tranquil. She is an archetype, not a specific person, a Madonna or mother, sister or daughter, a teacher or a bearer of new life, or a metaphor for some aspect of the human condition, such as human spirituality, the unconscious, the meditative and the instinctive. She is juxtaposed with a myriad of other signs: signs of the mundane, everyday world and allusions to Africa. Through this image, Kevin alludes to various cultural traditions.
Equally important are symbols of nature such as cows, fish, landscapes and water in many forms. The cow has long fascinated Roberts, because of the intimate and long relationship between man and cattle in Africa. The cow could signify possession and wealth, or, placed on a palette or trestle, suggest an object of worship or the female principle. Water is a sign of plenty, luxury and ease, or of spiritual renewal. It also represents the female principle and the subconscious. The landscapes are typical of South Africa and give a sense of place.