Andrew Verster (1937-2020) was a contemporary South African painter, and one of the most prominent artists to have emerged from Durban and the broader Kwa-Zulu Natal province. Verster was born in Johannesburg, and travelled to London where he studied design at the Camberwell School of Art (1955–59), before completing his teaching diploma at Reading University (1959–60). Alongside his reputation as a painter, Verster was also a poet, writer and a respected designer of sets and costumes for the local theatre industry. He is also remembered as a beloved and influential teacher and mentor by younger generations of artists. Verster lectured at the University of Durban-Westville as well as at the Natal Technikon until 1976, when he became a full-time painter.
Verster’s artistic output is comprised predominantly of paintings, along with drawings and works on paper and prints. His work is characterised by his bold use of vivid colour depicting a diverse range of subject matter, from the male form to tropical landscapes and still lifes. His canvasses are often richly adorned with intricate patterning in a nod to his work in theatre and his own eclectic interests. Verster can also be described as an art activist who sought to support and give exposure to the LGBTQI+ community, often using his art to highlight male sexuality.
Verster’s work has been exhibited widely throughout South Africa including in two retrospective exhibitions of his work: Mapping Terra Incognita (1997) at the Durban Art Gallery, and Past/Present (2009) at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg. Verster served on the board of the National Arts Festival, and was a trustee of the Durban Art Gallery. In 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Durban University of Technology.
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