Artist, traveller and recluse, Francois Krige remained something of an enigma in the South African art world during a long career spanning much of the twentieth century.
Early in his career, Krige was awarded the medal of honour for painting and graphic art by the South African Academy for Science and Arts in 1949. Despite this recognition he shied away from the art community, but few who have encountered Krige´s beautiful and evocative paintings celebrating the fauna, flora and people of southern Africa will disagree that he deserves wider recognition. Little is known and even less written about this retiring artist. Son of Japie Uys, the legendary rugby centre, and Sannie, the novelist, and brother to the poet Uys Krige, Francois distanced himself from both the limelight and his famous and perhaps overpowering family to pursue his art in relative isolation.
After studying at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Francois travelled with his brother Uys and studied art in Spain and the Low Countries in the thirties. Upon returning to South Africa, he became a member of the New Group along with artists such as Gregoire Boonzaier and Walter Battiss.
Other fascinating periods in his career included sketching Allied operations in the Western Desert and Italy during the Second World War; hiking alone in the Himalayas; and journeying to the Kalahari to live with the !Kung Bushmen and record their lifestyle in elegant drawings which were later used as inspiration for Gauguin-like paintings. Although Krige´s drawings are known and admired, his paintings were not exposed to the public other than to a small circle of art lovers.
When he died, an astonishing collection of beautiful works was discovered in his studio including his dream-like renderings of The San and Barakwena people of Central Botswana. These works were exhibited for the first time at his pivotal retrospective at Everard Read Cape Town in 2001. They were worked from drawings which Krige did in situ whilst visiting the San and Barakwena in the1960s and give homage to a people that, by the time Krige painted them, had vanished. Everard Read Cape Town remain the principle dealers for the estate.