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FOTAG Focus Articles

For a number of years the Natal Witness ran articles by FOTAG members. These articles called the FOTAG Focus discussed artworks from the collection on display.

Home > Articles > Fotag Focus > In the Orlando train, Gerard Sekoto

In the Orlando train

1940/41, oil on canvas

Gerard Sekoto (1913-1993)

by Val Woodley

In the Orlando train, Gerard Sekoto

This oil painting could be called A Study in Browns. It depicts three men in the dark interior of a railway coach painted in various shades of brown with black outlines on hats, jackets and windows; powerful brush strokes; pleasing composition.

The figures, shown from waist upwards, are huddled together, two on one seat facing the third who is bent over a newspaper. Their attitude is intense. Does World War 2 news absorb them or perhaps local incidents affecting their lives in the early 40s? A relief from the sombre tones is shown in the light reflecting on the blue of one man's shirt at centre and the warm tan colour of a lapel at right front. Sekoto, a self-taught Pedi artist, was born at a mission station near Middelburg, Transvaal. He trained as a teacher but after a few years became a professional artist. He painted in oils and his subjects centred around "the urban life of his people.....working on a social theme"*, in a unique style of rounded brush strokes.

By the 1940s the New Group had been formed in Cape Town to forge a link between contemporary South African artists. Many well-known artists of that time were members, including Sekoto. By the late forties he was studying art in Paris and was absorbed into Parisian life.

*From: South African Art - Tate Art Gallery Catalogue 1948/49

More FOTAG Focus Articles


Johansson collectionThe Tatham Art Gallery holds an Art Collection that contains significant British and French artworks dating back to the 18th century. Its South-African art collection is focused on, but not exclusive to, the art of KwaZulu-Natal.


ImageThe Tatham Art Gallery hosts a range of Art Exhibitions. These include traveling and researched exhibitions as well as exhibitions initiated by the Gallery and compiled from the collection.


A selection of current and archival articles from the Tatham Art Gallery. These articles provide a historical and contemporary perspective on the Gallery and the visual arts in KwaZulu-Natal.

Art Gallery Shop

ImageThe Tatham Art Gallery shop stocks high quality works by local crafters. It is an ideal place to find unique presents and original collectables.