When it comes to truly expansive, canvas transforming, larger-than-life visual representations of traditional South African vistas and horizons, then there really is no better artist for the job than leading fine art exponent, Kim Donaldson. Typically divided into the three separate subject areas of wildlife, landscape and tribal art, Donaldson’s toweringly illustrative pieces are a joy to behold and picture his native South Africa as nature intended; doing as much pictorial justice to the subject matter as a David Attenborough TV documentary or a National Geographic magazine centre page spread, not to mention doing one hell of a job for the South African tourist board.
But then Donaldson has perfected his rousing oil painted art over the past forty years and therefore has a wealth of invaluable experience from which to draw upon (no pun intended) at the onset of each new individual release or collection. Donaldson enjoyed 14 solo exhibitions between 1976 and 1986 (having turned professional as of 1978) – which was an impressive start in itself – yet since 1986 has reached even greater heights, witnessing his work being showcased in galleries from London and Johannesburg to San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale in America over the intervening years. Retrospectively, Donaldson has been represented through his bespoke works of art on more than 50 exhibition-based occasions in the space of a mere two decades
The Donaldson story began in Southern Rhodesia in 1952 – a largely defunct state which is now geographically, politically and economically referred to as Zimbabwe – where the future fine artist spent his formative years living on a 150,000-acre ranch; which ultimately served as the ideal environment in which to develop and nurture his fledgling interest in the wildlife and people whom he was enveloped by during this early period of his life.
Donaldson’s inherent knowledge of his compositional territory has placed him at the forefront of African art over the past few decades, with his far-reaching insights enabling him to illustratively reflect the spirit of the animals, landscapes and people indigenous of the terrains in which he focuses his artistic attentions. Seen as something of an unofficial creative ambassador for Africa through his sublime works down the years, Donaldson’s signature work also subtly addresses and visually documents the ever changing face of continent which has observed its fair share of upheaval during its often troubled past, and through his own particular brand of art manages to use his brushes and palette to highlight the issues facing his homelands.
Although Donaldson’s works never play up to political or cultural problems encountered by Africa, the acclaimed artist does his level best to paint his compositions in a positive light, and project and promote his Africa of one which has faced up to its multitude of social and environmental challenges and gusto and optimism, rather than depicting a country tinged with sadness or inviting pity amongst those who admire his back catalogue of works. Donaldson’s upbeat, energized visual messages harness the colourful powers of a palette which affords his painting a texture, depth and intensity which appear as though they’ve been hewn and manipulated by the very soil of Africa itself, with its robust reds often taking centre stage. Donaldson himself sees it more of a window into what he champions as the ‘real Africa’, and fervently believes his accumulative works to be snap shots of a place and a people which remain very close to his heart.
Working in varying degrees of pastel from the outset, Donaldson has in recent years toyed with oil and mixed media, and his style has been regularly likened to that of the realism and impressionism movements of art. Universally acknowledges as a master in all the mediums which he does practise in when depicting Africa’s great wildlife, landscapes and people, Donaldson perpetually sets himself new illustrative goals, and strives – through artistic freedom and exploration – to push creative boundaries.
Having being a featured artist in no less than four books on the subject of art, Donaldson set about penning his very own book dedicated to his specialist subject, entitled, ‘Africa: An Artist’s Journal’. Some 4 and a half years later, his book, dedicated to his travels and experiences through the amazing continent that’s so inspired him and his work, was completed; having been responsible not just for its written content but also all the hand-painted images and the overall design and layout of the book. His title went on to become a best seller in five countries on its release, whilst also being highly commended by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for its design. Furthermore, it’s gone on to become the number 1 selling artist’s book of all time and has been published in three languages.
Donaldson has also participated in countless one man shows and group exhibitions throughout Europe and America and his works have been presented in the world’s most prestigious auction houses including Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonham’s & Philips to date.