Renowned artist, Cyril Coetzee has captured some of South Africa’s most vibrant personalities on canvas. Perhaps most well known for being Nelson Mandela’s portraitist, Coetzee’s most recent project is a riveting portrait of yet another iconic South African.
Nthabiseng Nti Ramaboa, more popularly known as Chef Nti, is one of South Africa’s most loved and talented culinary figures – a TV chef, cookbook author, restaurateur and social media phenomenon. Rooted in her heritage and inspired by the authentic South African food she grew up eating and cooking, her mission is to celebrate, innovate and share South African flavours and culinary culture with the world. Having recently won Culinary Icon of the Year at this year’s Luxe Restaurant Awards, it was the right time to be painted by an iconic portrait artist – cue in Coetzee.
“Who wouldn’t love to have a portrait from the incredible Cyril Coetzee! I am not only excited, I’m so honoured to be part of this project,” says Chef Nti.
Coetzee’s portrait draws inspiration from the charismatic photograph of a smiling Chef Nti that also graces the cover of her landmark cookbook, My Modern African Kitchen, published by Quivertree. The photograph encapsulates Chef Nti’s essence – vibrant, charismatic, joyful and proudly African. In true artistic vein, Coetzee’s interpretation of this image goes deeper in a way that only a portrait can, conveying not only her likeness but her presence and spirit.
Bright colours and patterns have been painted boldly – sheer vibrancy communicated through brushstrokes. Chef Nti’s traditional African fabric for her headpiece and blouse are fitting choices for Coetzee who is adept at capturing regalia that holds cultural significance. The vivaciousness of the portrait ably represents Chef Nti’s adventurous spirit and determination to showcase her township heritage and proud African roots to the world.
“The use of bold and bright colour is evocative of what she does with cuisine – she works with the senses,” explains Coetzee.
While typical portraits are three-quarters life-size, Chef Nti’s portrait is life-size. Again, this speaks to who she is – a strong force of energy and a spirited individual who has taken authentic South African cuisine and presented it on a global stage in the most exciting way possible.
This inviting new artwork will be included in her permanent art collection housed at her Johannesburg-based restaurant, the Taste Kitchen, where it will be on view for all to enjoy – a feast for the eyes to accompany the delectable feasts to emerge from the kitchen!