Title of Artwork: “Washerwomen”
Artwork by Gerard Sekoto
Year Created 1913-1993
Summary of Washerwomen
As Sekoto was fond of saying, “I love studying and observing people, and then composing my paintings from memory,” he also enjoyed and was fascinated by doing so. While he was adept at simplifying and composing works with a strong structural quality, he was also able to express the mood through his unique use of a harmonious blend of strong, almost primary colours.
All About Washerwomen
Sekoto’s primary focus was on the environment in which he was working. As a result, one of Sekoto’s most notable early works was that it featured an endless variety of subject matter. It ranged from women gossiping and washday to African beer halls and workers commuting in the artist’s work Colorful, anecdotal and interesting were all things he appreciated in what might have seemed commonplace to others. Sekoto’s compositions consistently show a deep empathy for the human condition through the dignity of the figures he places in them.
Sekoto’s work during the Sophiatown era opened a window for Johannesburg’s secret suburban society to see and experience the lives of others. During Sekoto’s Sophiatown years, the street scenes, intimate spaces in township homes, social habits of women on washday, and children playing in the street were an eye opener for some. Numerous buyers held liberal viewpoints, advocated for racial equality, or were otherwise well-versed in the experiences of people from minority groups.