Transvaal Romantic : an exploration of Romantic elements in the landscape paintings of Moses Tladi

09 Jul 2015

Little comprehensive literature is available on Romantic expressions by black artists in South Africa. The work of Moses Tladi, a recently re-discovered Pedi artist, offers a unique perspective on the iconic landscape genre that found its origins in this era. The artist, recently researched by Angela Read Lloyd, was born in 1897 and made a living as a gardener for a prosperous English family in Johannesburg. His landscapes adopt the language of the Romantic sublime, expressing a fascination with nature and one’s being-in-nature as it exchanges a mimetic representation of reality for one imbued with the spiritual and imaginative. By comparing and discussing his work in relation to seminal Romantic artists such as J.M.W. Turner and David Caspar Friedrich, I hope to commemorate Tladi’s work, as well as draw attention to how his unique South African setting influenced his painting methods and Romantic inclinations. Intertwined with (and problematised by) the social and political currents of his time, Tladi’s paintings become the interpretation of nature’s forces.