In recent years Everett Duarte has branched out with bold strokes in bright colours on large canvases, creating an effect which is both modern and dramatic. African wildlife lends itself to such treatment and Everett’s observation of his subject is accurate but appealingly loose and not over detailed. His work has been very well received at ArtZurich this year.
With his wife Frances Duarte, Everett also creates Mpenja paintings – an intriguing double act. He is a self-confessed African rock lizard (he turns peculiar without the sun), whilst Frances is a cooler blooded European, born and bred in Germany. Their work is a coming together of two minds and two continents.
Fascinatingly, they work together to create a kind of visual dialogue in every piece. They mix colours; paint layer upon layer, and wrestle and grapple until they finally agree that a piece is finished. They often work in silence – a cerebral collaboration felt by the heart. They marry two vastly different loves of Africa. Everett who is from Africa, stretches out and touches Frances’ understanding of the same land. Frances celebrates Africa; Everett yearns for it every minute he is away from it. This is almost tangible in the tapestry of these layered works. The couple spend a portion of the year in South Africa and the rest in Europe. ‘Mpenja’, the name given to their dual work, is only created in Africa.
“It has to be this way”, Frances explains, “to be truly authentic and to be able to create the real stuff of this land – it has to be done here in the warmth and beauty of itself.” So; untamed spaces, legend, romance, nostalgia, people in the raw, heat, drought, fragrance and strange coincidences, all constitute the ingredients of each riveting African portrayal.