Self-Portrait

Eric Mbata

South African, born 1948

Self-Portrait, 1972

  • Not On View

Etching on paper

Dimensions: 17 5/8 × 14 1/2 in. (44.8 × 36.8 cm)
Image: 13 5/8 × 11 5/16 in. (34.6 × 28.7 cm)

Gift of Jack B. Pierson in memory of Robert Martin Purcell, 1979.101

South African artist Eric Mbata’s self-portrait illustrates an intriguing look into this artist’s expressive style and gives the viewer a glance into his heritage. Mbata’s freedom of line illustrates a variety of dark and light tones that emphasize his round head, and mysterious eyes that stare straight at the viewer underneath streams of thin, fading long hair. Around his neck, there is a necklace with a thick chain and medallion attached to it which resembles a tribal artifact. Encapsulated beneath his head, a thin body that seems wrapped in a tunnel of lines.Mbata employs the etching technique to its fullest. This technique is covered with a thin resinous film impervious to acid. The artist draws on this ground with a needle, exposing lines on the copper which are bitten away when the plate is dipped into acid. Mbata was born in 1948, and worked as a graphic artist producing mostly figurative etchings and linocuts. He studied at Rorke's Drift Art Center during the late 1970s, and is represented in the South African National Gallery (now called Iziko) in Cape Town, and the University of Fort Hare.

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