Neil Rodger was born in 1941 in Mowbray, Cape Town. He now lives and works in the Eastern Cape, where he thrives on the austerity and solitude of the region. It seems that this environment is conducive to the enigmatic silence so characteristic of his finest work.
Rodger belongs with those individual realists who have, throughout the modern era, defied categorisation. Instead his art is characterized by his pursuit of the universality, timelessness and harmony found in all great art regardless of period or place. It is a measure of his conviction of the continuity of great art that he remains unmoved by revolutions, fashions or changing attitudes around him.
His cultural connections lie with Europe – to the Mediterranean by inclination and to the Netherlands by training – both of which are resounding influences. His surreal landscapes and architectural capriccios, his controlled, quiet, contemplative interiors, his heraldic animals all bespeak these inspirations. There is a self-confessed ambiguity in Rodger’s art. His subjects are deeply peaceful yet elusive, often remaining anonymous. There is a classical timelessness in these contemplative scenes, and yet his works remain unmistakably contemporary. His search for ever -increasing refinement of conception and means remains constant.
Rodger has worked in a variety of media in both painting and sculpture, and his work covers an exceptionally wide range of content. He is equally proficient in landscape, interiors, figures both nude and clothed. He also magnificently portrays animals - his bulls and cockerels achieve an almost emblematic presence. He is one of the country´s most sought-after portraitists; and spends time each year executing commissions abroad. His portraits characteristically set out to achieve considerably more than likeness, and most are considered to be evocative and memorable paintings over and above their function as portraits.
Rodger is currently one of the most popular, respected and admired artists in South Africa and he is rightly considered one of the great artists of his generation.
‘I believe that pictures rarely benefit from commentary
by the artist. In general I would say that while most good art has been
extremely difficult and taxing in the making, it is a prerequisite of great art
that this is not evident – that it appears effortless or even inevitable.’
1961-63 & 1966 Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town
1963-66 Rijks Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam
1981-82 Rhodes University, Masters Degree in Fine Art (cum laude)
1963 Max Michaelis (prize for painting)
1965 Merit Award (painting) Rijksakademie
1982 Five Roses Young Artist of the Year, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
Throughout South Africa, the USA, the UK, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Monte Carlo, Italy, Hong Kong, Namibia & Australia