Press Release - 21 April 2011
Keith Alexander’s The Gentleman Caller is a mature-style work by the artist. At the time this piece was painted, Alexander was comfortable with his assimilation and handling of the metaphors of encroachment and loss and their visual renderings in his compositions.
He had also made the transition to acrylic: “Painting in acrylics is more difficult than painting in oils. It’s a faster medium...it’s very satisfying...I know a lot of art people are critical of acrylics...I disagree. It all depends on how the paint is used.”
This painting resonates with imagery that Alexander revisited throughout his career- checkerboard floors, drifting dunes and ambiguous shadows. The visitor emerges from a mirage of the desert, head bowed against the heat. Given that the same dramatic shadows are present in this work as well as The Caller the viewer can conclude that this figure is not alone. The desert landscape that dominated the majority of his oevre was described by Alexander as “a medium for the colonial collapse, the transition...from old...to the new...Africa will be there forever. Long after the schemes and dreams have passed, it remains the ultimate winner.”
David Robbins, Keith Alexander The Artist in Retrospect, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg, 2000, p 23