Chris Tugwell (1938) was born in Durban. Apart from private lessons he received in his formative years from established painters in Natal, he had no formal art training. Yet, Chris says that art has been the driving force throughout his life.
His earlier paintings were mainly seascapes with figures, executed while living in Ramsgate at the KwaZulu Natal South Coast. At the age of 20 Chris moved to Johannesburg to earn a living as a painter in the city of gold. He attained a certain measure of success in a very short time, but his driving ambition to make his mark as one of South Africa’s leading artists did not rest with painting seascapes and capturing the brilliant light of the sun-drenched Transvaal highveld.
A year after moving to the former Transvaal (Gauteng), Chris opened his first art gallery in Brooklyn, Pretoria. Today Chris is a household name throughout South Africa, both as artist and as dealer of repute handling the work of many prominent South African artists.
His own academic impressionistic interpretations of river scenes, old tobacco farms of the Magaliesberg district and peacefully grazing cattle reveal an intense awareness and responsiveness to the vast and spacious African veldt. His oils show sensitive observation of cloud formations and the influence of the sky on the landscape. “The subtle and poetic moods of interest me more than the dramatic and highly colourful”, says Chris, and it is his delicate renderings of these moods that has become a hallmark of his style and earned him international acclaim.
A keen bird-watcher and boating enthusiast, Chris spends much time observing and sketching nature on the waters of the Hartebeespoortdam and on rivers and the sea. He finishes his oils in his studios at Hartebeespoortdam, Waterkloof and Knysna. Chris has exhibited his work in leading galleries throughout South Africa and in the Hagemeier Gallerie in Frankfurt-on-Main in Germany, which he considers a particular highlight in his career as a professional artist. His paintings hang in many important private and corporate collections, both in South Africa and abroad.