Art and nature stroll

Company Garden, Cape Town – 23 Jul 2011

The last place I visited in Cape Town was the South Africa National Gallery. I didn’t take any pictures inside because the house rules forbids anybody to take pictures.

The Great Vladimir Tretchikoff retrospective exhibition was on when I visited and I had great time looking closely at all his paintings. His main subjects are exotic people and flowers.The exhibition aims to examine Tretchikoff anew and place him in contemporary perspective. Many iconic works such as the “Chinese Girl” and “The Dying Swan” were on display.

For those not in the know, Tretchikoff (1913–2006) was one of the most commercially successful artists of all time. His painting, “Chinese Girl” (popularly known as “The Green Lady”), is one of the best-selling art prints ever. He was considered to be one of the richest artists, with earnings comparable to Picasso. He pioneered the idea of selling affordable copies of his works, enabling working class people to own art.

Tretchikoff was a self-taught artist who painted realistic figures, portraits, still life and animals, with subjects often inspired by his early life in China and Malaysia, and later life in South Africa. His work was immensely popular with the public, but is often seen by art critics as the epitome of kitsch (indeed, he was nicknamed the “King of Kitsch”). He worked in oil, watercolour, ink, charcoal and pencil but is best known for his reproduction prints which sold worldwide in huge numbers.

After the Second World War he settled in South Africa. Sadly, he suffered a stroke in 2002 that left him unable to paint, and died on 26 August 2006 in Cape Town. But his paintings are truly inspiring.

After the exhibition, we just strolled out at the Company Garden in front of the gallery.

Company Gardens is a large public park and botanical garden set in the heart of Cape Town, home to a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond and aviary.


The garden is generally teeming with locals (including geese), who seek out the fresh air and beautiful views of Table Mountain. The tree-lined avenue, with its benches and resident squirrels, forms a pathway between the suburb of Gardens and the city centre.

Company Gardens is the oldest garden in the country and is intricately bound with the arts in South Africa. Besides having the art gallery within the park, it is also the venue of a number of festivals, including the Human Rights Concert and the Youth Festival.

And these concluded my visit to Cape Town. I really hope to be able to travel to Cape Town again to visit all those places that I didn’t get to visit and to meet penguins and whales that I didn’t get to meet. Until I can do that, I need to save lots of money and bring my son along.

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