On the 18th of March South Africa bid an untimely farewell to one of our most talented artists – David James Brown. Brown was born in Johannesburg in 1951. He studied design and photography at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, but was only introduced to the creative possibilities of sculpture by Cecil Skotnes in 1975.
Success soon followed with his debut solo exhibition ‘Dogs of War’ held at the Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery in 1981. For much of the 80s his work poignantly explored aspects of powerlessness in the face of aggression as well as violence, repression and processes of dehumanisation.
His post-apartheid work continued to address abuse of power as central theme. He retained his dark sense of humour but became more overtly playful in his art. He continued to work primarily in metal and bronze and occasionally diverted to wood carving and photography. His most recent output focussed on large-scale international commissioned works. Brown’s work is included in major public and private collections including JAG, the Pretoria Art Museum; the Zeitz Collection in Kenya and the Zeitz MOCAA Collection and IZIKO South African National Gallery in Cape Town.
Did you know? JAG is fortunate to have two David Brown works Animal No. II (1980) and and Voyage No. IV (1987-88) in its collection. Another piece Tightroping (1985-86), commissioned by JAG, was installed outside the gallery in Joubert Park upon completion. Unfortunately one of the figures was stolen in 1996 and thus the sculpture no longer exists in its original form.