Kevin Atkinson, renowned artist and inspirational art educator, lectured in painting at UCT's Michaelis School of Fine art from 1972, later becoming head of the art school. Known predominantly for his monumental and conceptual canvasses, his extensive body of works spans a period from the early 1960s to the early 2000s.
'The overall quality of the work was simply astounding', writes Stephen Croesser, artist, former student of Atkinson at Michaelis, and currently appointed to document the artist's vast oeuvre. 'The intention was clearly to facilitate creative personal growth and to stimulate thought, to ask essential questions, or in his words? 'to begin to strip away the layers.'
The 1970s were a particularly rich period for Atkinson, and the conceptual painting, I Live in Cape Town, South Africa, produced in 1975, was one of a series with that title. Art critic, Joan Stock, reviewing an 1975 exhibition of Kevin Atkinson, which included one of the above series, commented: 'Atkinson's work, completely abstract is, among other things, concerned with duality. It focuses attention on the reality, and the unreality, of painting itself: on the artificiality of symbolic systems like language and art through which we related to our environment.'
'His teaching experience is reflected in the general form of his paintings, which resemble a teacher's explanation in chalk on a blackboard. Here he is saying, this is the surface of the canvas. You are able to suggest space with paint, you may paint a surface in a variety of ways and you are able to create an unreality which appears real'?
'Without imagery, colour or expression, he achieves qualities of 'pure' painting - space, tensions, luminosity and sensuous painterly surfaces. While commenting on the codifications of art, he makes it. This may not have been his intention, but it certainly makes his point about the notions of duality'.
(Ref: Joan Stock: Ideas into Art. Paintings by Kevin Atkinson, at Fabian Fine Art, Cape Town, 1975)