neil rodger, everard read, bio,


Neil Rodger

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Neil Rodger in November 2013.

Neil was a young graduate artist from Rhodes University when he first exhibited with Everard Read in 1980. From the onset, Neil’s atmospheric, almost surreal images of people in landscapes and formal settings, were avidly sought by collectors. He rapidly gained a reputation as one of South Africa’s foremost portraitists. His renown as a portraitist spread to Europe and the artist received numerous commissions for the United Kingdom and Germany.

Everard Read organized many exhibitions of Neil Rodger’s work both in the Johannesburg and Cape Town galleries as he became one of the predominant painters of his generation.

A retrospective of Neil Rodger’s paintings will be organized during 2014. 


Neil Rodger was born in 1941 in Mowbray, Cape Town. He lived and worked in the Eastern Cape, where he thrived on the austerity and solitude of the region. It seems that this environment was conducive to the enigmatic silence so characteristic of his finest work.

Rodger belonged with those individual realists who have, throughout the modern era, defied categorisation. Instead his art is characterized by his pursuit of the universality, timelessness and harmony found in all great art regardless of period or place. It is a measure of his conviction of the continuity of great art that he remains unmoved by revolutions, fashions or changing attitudes around him.

His cultural connections lie with Europe to the Mediterranean by inclination and to the Netherlands by training  both of which are resounding influences. His surreal landscapes and architectural capriccios, his controlled, quiet, contemplative interiors, his heraldic animals all bespeak these inspirations. There is a self-confessed ambiguity in Rodgers art. His subjects are deeply peaceful yet elusive, often remaining anonymous. There is a classical timelessness in these contemplative scenes, and yet his works remain unmistakably contemporary. His search for ever -increasing refinement of conception and means remains constant.

Rodger worked in a variety of media in both painting and sculpture, and his work covers an exceptionally wide range of content. He is equally proficient in landscape, interiors, figures both nude and clothed. He also magnificently portrays animals - his bulls and cockerels achieve an almost emblematic presence. He is one of the country's most sought-after portraitists; and spends time each year executing commissions abroad. His portraits characteristically set out to achieve considerably more than likeness, and most are considered to be evocative and memorable paintings over and above their function as portraits.

Rodger is currently one of the most popular, respected and admired artists in South Africa and he is rightly considered one of the great artists of his generation.


I believe that pictures rarely benefit from commentary
by the artist. In general I would say that while most good art has been
extremely difficult and taxing in the making, it is a prerequisite of great art
that this is not evident that it appears effortless or even inevitable.


1968 -1974 Member of the Grahamstown Group

1966 -1967 Part-time lecturer in drawing and painting at the Cape Technical College

1967 Art Teacher, Wynberg Boys High School, Cape Town

1968 -1974 Lecturer in Fine Art, Rhodes University

1974 -1981 Lecturer, then a senior lecturer, in Fine Art at Port Elizabeth Technical College

1981 Full-time artist

1980 Member of the selection board of the King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth

1963 -1966 Travelled throughout Europe

1971 Worked and travelled in the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Spain

1986 Worked and travelled in the United States of America and England

1987 Portrait work in Texas, United States of America

1988 Portrait work in the United Kingdom and Switzerland

1989 to date   Has undertaken portrait and other commissions in Europe, Australia and the USA. He has maintained a studio in Germany since 1993 and has travelled from there to other parts of Europe to undertake commissioned work of various kinds. Ongoing commissions and other work in South Africa.


1961-63 & 1966 Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town

1963-66 Rijks Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam

1981-82 Rhodes University, Masters Degree in Fine Art (cum laude)


1963 Max Michaelis (prize for painting)

1965 Merit Award (painting) Rijksakademie

1982 Five Roses Young Artist of the Year, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown



Throughout South Africa, the USA, the UK, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Monte Carlo, Italy, Hong Kong, Namibia & Australia