In December 1931 Moses Tladi became the first black artist ever to exhibit in the South African National Gallery. During the 1930s Tladi achieved a country-wide reputation as an outstanding landscape painter. Tladi served his country during the Second World War, but continued to paint until the tragic events of 1956 which led to his death three years later. This book re-discovers the life and work of a remarkable South African artist - the first black artist working in an international style.
Like Monet, who was his first inspiration, Moses Tladi was a gardener and an artist. Born in remote Sekhukuneland, east of Pretoria, South Africa, the son of a medicine-man who made a living by working in iron, and a mother who was a gifted potter, Tladi in his early childhood herded cattle in the dramatic hill-country around his home. His parents had become "believers" under the influence of the Berlin Missionary Society and he was educated at the Lobethal mission, at ga Phaahla. Tladi, like many young men of the time, went to the cities in search of work. It is not known how he encountered Herbert Read, but in the mid 1920's he found employment in Johannesburg as gardener to Read at his property in the fashionable suburb of Parktown. Tladi’s talent was discovered by Herbert Read’s daughters who were schoolgirls in the mid-1920's. Read took Tladi under his wing, and introduced him to the collector and philanthropist Howard Pim. Read and Pim promoted Tladi at public exhibitions from 1929 onwards. Pim died in1934, but Tladi continued to flourish, with Read as his patron until the outbreak of World War II.