Coetzee’s experience overseas enabled the artist to become familiar with the international art scenes of London, Paris and Japan, as he exhibited works at renowned venues within each city. Following a career spent largely outside South Africa, Coetzee’s works were scarce in his country of origin prior to his 2001 exhibition, Christo Coetzee: Paintings from London and Paris 1954-1964 in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In 1953 Coetzee met art collector, Anthony Denney, marking the beginning of a friendship that would prove to be very fruitful for the young artist, as Denny was instrumental in Coetzee’s introduction to the London art scene as well as the artist’s first solo exhibition in 1955 at the Hanover Gallery in London. Denny would go on to introduce Coetzee to Michel Tapié, a French art critic, who would mentor Coetzee during the ten years he resided in Paris, introducing him to artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Yves Klein and Lucio Fontana. Despite Coetzee’s great appreciation for European art, one of his most important influences would be the avant-garde Japanese Gutai Group, whom the artist came across during his travels to Asia.
It was Coetzee’s exposure to these various artistic movements taking hold in London, Paris and Japan in the mid to late 20th-century that greatly and collectively influenced the artist’s work. Produced in 1986, Boy with Trumpet is a beautiful example of Coetzee’s neo-baroque and avant-garde style and epitomizes the confluence of Coetzee’s multi-national influences.
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