W a l t e r   B a t t i s s    ( 1 9 0 6  -  1 9 8 2)

oil on canvas, 40 x 60 cm

signed bottom right ‘Battiss Comores’

As Walter Battiss grew older his work became more youthful in spirit. In the years before his death, his lifelong passion for islands culminated in the creation of his own fantasy Fook Island which had its own postage stamps and much other paraphernalia. This utopian ‘island’ was a composite of the many islands he had visited – which included Zanzibar, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, the Greek Isles and the Comores – blended together in his customary imaginative fashion.

He visited the Comores in 1974–5 and in this painting portrays a seemingly idyllic rhythm of life for the islanders as they set out in their pirogues to fish from a secluded bay surrounded by arching palms. Interestingly, in this image with its shallow depth of field and calligraphic figures, Battiss continues to display his lifelong interest in the aesthetics of Bushman painting and its treatment of line and space.

© 2003 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.