Cyril Coetzee, artist-in-residence @ Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa
“I am deeply fascinated by new faces”
Cyril Coetzee is best known for being Nelson Mandela’s portraitist and since the beginning of the year has been available for guest portraits and classes at the Mount Nelson Hotel.“Whilst on the premises I do not work in a dedicated studio, but meet the clients for sittings in the gardens, the conservatory or in the client’s suite. Most of the work is done in my home studio in Cape Town. I am only at the hotel when I need to meet and work with the clients, making drawings or taking photographs.
When I first got involved in the residency I did a number of samples to display in the hotel –including one of a child and one of the hotel manager. Subsequently, I’ve done a portrait of an elderly American lady called Joy Briar who is something of a doyenne of the hotel, having frequented the place for decades. Her three daughters commissioned me to paint a portrait of her to hang in the hotel.
Working in the hotel environment can be challenging as well as exciting. Exciting… because I am deeply fascinated by new faces and one does meet interesting people from all over the world. I like to sit in the lounge and watch them having their tea or at the pool having their drinks. However, it is challenging, because as a portrait painter you deal not only with your own perception of people but with their perception of themselves and of how you as the artist are portraying them.”