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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Well-known sculptor and teacher dies of cancer at his home in KZN on October 15.

Peter Schutz, sculptor and teacher, died of cancer at his home in KwaZulu-Natal on October 15, 2008.

Born in Glogau, Germany, 1942, Schutz obtained a BA(FA) Honours and MA(FA) Natal University, Durban in 1982. He won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1984, the Cape Town Triennial Gold Medal in 1988 and represented South Africa in Chile and in Morocco at official presentations.

He taught at major tertiary educational institutions including the Technikon Natal and the University of the Witwatersrand, and maintained fully-equipped sculpture studios at Wits and in KwaZulu-Natal up to the last three months of his life.

Schutz’s work is held in in numerous galleries, nationally and internationally, including Durban Municipal Art Museum, Atlantis/Mariposa, Johannesburg Art Gallery and corporate collections such as the Telkom, Sasol and Chase Manhattan Bank collections. He participated in group exhibitions with luminaries such as Penny Siopis, Walter Oltman and Neels Coetzee; and held solo exhibitions – in September 1998, Icons and Idols, Schutz @ 60 in 2003, Extraordinary People in 2004, and Sentient Beings in 2007.

His long association with the Goodman Gallery positioned him as one of the major contemporary artists of South Africa, capable of speaking to the universal while maintaining a strong sense of the particular in the iconography of his work. For example, Durban Icon, in the permanent collection of the Durban Art Gallery, honours the rickshaw man – the work of a common labourer, with a halo and flames of light. Understanding the sacred within the commonplace, and presenting these images was a hallmark of his work.

Female form and mythology became a major interest in his last years with works like: Perpetual Light, Crouching Woman, A Piece of Blue Sky, Madonna of the Precious Blood, Goddess of Vegetation, Invocation to Light. A feature of this work was to create an inviting tension between images of spiritually and lightheartedness. He found peace and profundity in nature wherever he was and organic life forms were constantly emerging from his work – tempered by some Bavarian restraint perhaps, but prolific and joyous nevertheless.

Although he travelled frequently and visited major art fairs internationally, his major works always referred to the African context within which his post-war family made home. Mythic, legendary and religious inspirations came from across the board – Lakshmi, the Madonna, bleeding hearts from the tattoo parlous – all brought their own particular richness of reverence and reality.

His preferred medium was wood but he also worked frequently with Malcolm Christian at Caversham Press, re-creating his 3 D images into graphics that had a simplicity of their own.

His approach to his work was as idiosyncratic as his personality – he brooked no compromise of craftsmanship, and only emerged from his solitude to keep steadfast company with a few but distinguished colleagues.

Schutz said of his work: “I take pleasure in the physical side of sculpture and like to honour the old methods of craftmanship with contemporary manipulations, allowing the work to evolve beyond the original concept.”

Peter is remembered with great love by his life partner Jill Waterman; sister Heidi and brother-in-law Peter Kurth; his nieces Gabi and Susi and their husbands Torsten and Herbert; and their children Katherina, Benedikt, Laura, Johanna and Franziska