Paul Dixon wins 2023 Africa Wildlife Artist of the Year
By Adolf Kaure.
Well-known artist Paul Dixon won the 2023 Africa Wildlife Artist of the Year after it was announced during a recent exhibition at Swakopmund’s Fine Art Gallery.
The competition’s judging panel reviewed over 100 entries from 50 artists across six countries. Each piece of art was adjudicated anonymously based on its originality, narrative, and technical skill with entries for the competition received from Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Australia, Canada and Italy.
According to the jury, his painting on a lion ready to hunt at a waterhole in Etosha titled “Eyes on the Prize” is all about action and atmosphere.
“The masterfully depicted predator and prey communicate the intensity of the moment through their body language, all within a compressed colour palette. A strong horizontal format reinforces the movement of the hunt,” they stated.
The jury chose Paul Dixon as the winner, not just because of the extraordinary detail in his works, but for the high standard of all of Paul’s entries in this year’s wildlife artist of the year competition.
According to Dixon, the vast continent of Africa was the inspiration for his masterpiece.
“Over the years I have narrowed down my favourite stamping ground to the country of Namibia. In the North of this desert country lays the ‘Great White Place’ simply known as ‘Etosha’, my happy place.”
“This vast open semi-desert supports a surprising variety of species, which, combined with unique light and atmosphere guide my palette. It is where my ‘work’ begins. Field notes and rapid on-site sketches are the order of the day, the genesis of future paintings.”
“Long, hot, dry, dusty winter days are never wasted as herds of antelope, zebra, elephants and more traverses to and from the waterholes for their daily intake of water, essential for survival. With the animals taking centre stage, I aim to capture the heat, dust, light and atmosphere that is unique to this very special place.”
“This painting is just one of these encounters that happened over a four-day period at a waterhole known as M’Bari,” said Dixon.
At a time when the world’s wildlife is under such devastating pressure from expanding human populations and the illegal trade, Dixon donates some of his paintings and drawings to worthy causes to raise awareness.
This he says is as an integral part of his job of giving back, with these funds used to support the ongoing struggle to prevent extinction of majestic animals of which some are already on the brink.
The Africa Wildlife Artist of the Year was founded this year and has raised over N$50,000 in sales. The entry fees for the competition also aid in supporting wildlife conservation across Africa.
Multi-award winning artist, Paul Dixon, was born in Scotland but grew up in St. Ives, Cornwall, England.
As a child, he had a natural flair for drawing and spent many hours with pad and pencil in and around the Cornish countryside which is where he also developed a keen interest in natural history.
The muse, has had no formal art training other than art lessons at school.
In 1981, Paul emigrated to South Africa where he experienced first-hand the African wildlife, in its natural habitat, sparking off a love affair with the African bush. Inspired by his initial bush encounters, he began trying to capture the atmosphere and light, which is so unique to Africa in his preferred medium of pastel.
In 1996, his work was accepted by Christies of London for their prestigious Wildlife Art Auction and subsequently sold every piece offered in the next seven consecutive wildlife art sales. In 2005, Paul began painting in oil on canvas, keeping his own style and maintaining the ‘pastel’ effect and appearance. Over the decades, his award-winning works his have been displayed in several galleries across the world, also in Swakopmund, where he held his first solo exhibition in 2008.