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Walter Battiss, the Rock art painter

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

The Walter Battiss Museum showcases a number of his works for viewing with a curated collection of memorabilia. Join us for a tour through the life and times of one of the twentieth century’s leading artists.

Home-grown talent

In addition to being a prolific painter and printmaker, Walter Battiss was a passionate student of Southern African rock art, publishing no fewer than seven books on the subject in the 1940s and 50s.

The elongated figures typical of his art were directly inspired by his large collection of rock art photographs and tracings. In the 1960s his work was characterised by a sgrafitto technique (scratching images through layers of oil paint) and in the early 1970s Battiss invented an imaginary artistic construct, Fook Island, which he populated with material culture (a Fook alphabet, currency, postage stamps, passport, etc.).

His numerous travels to the Middle East and to various Greek islands were constant sources of inspiration.

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