Cartoon depicting Nelson Mandela's liberation in 1990. The man who opens his cell door is South-African Prime Minister F.W. De Klerk.

Derek Bauer was a South-African cartoonist, whose work appeared in the Weekly Mail, the Argus and the Star Newspapers. The brutal content of his cartoons and his angry, scrambled and blotched style were in sharp contrast with the aesthetic qualities of his pen, ink and watercolours. His work regularly left his readers behind with an uneasy feeling, and especially his cartoons against Apartheid caused quite a stir. 

Cartoon by Derek Bauer
Two comics caricaturing U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Derek Bauer was born in East London, South Africa in 1955. He admired the work of cartoonists Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman, but also of more classic artists like Francisco de Goya and George Grosz. He graduated as a graphic designer at East London Technicon after which he worked as a layout artist, renderer and eventually art director for De Villiers and Schonfeld, today known as Young and Rubicam. He eventually left the field of advertising and design and focused on drawing. He approached the newly founded South African newspaper The Weekly Mail with a portfolio of drawings in October 1985. He remained affiliated to the newspaper for many years, and his cartoons quickly also appeared in other South African press. Many of Bauer's cartoons were fiercely critical of apartheid and government censorship. In June 1986 large sections of The Weekly Mail were censored, with Bauer's cartoons even completely blanked out. The Botha administration defended these actions as being part of emergency regulations. When the restrictions were loosened again Bauer didn't let himself be silenced. In August 1987 he created a cartoon about Tony Heard, editor of Cape Times, who was forced to resign under government pressure. He drew The Cape Times' managing editor Gordon Mulholland, mowing down free press with use of a scythe. This time Bauer's paper took the precaution to censor the cartoon beforehand. They removed the original caption "I love the smell of blood in the morning: In memoriam Tony Heard" and replaced it with the less offensive line: "Cape Times: the sickle is mightier than the pen." In August 1988 Bauer drew another controversial cartoon which depicted Minister of Defense Magnus Malan as a military tank who accuses opponents of government censorship of being "the vanguard of those forces that are intent on wrecking the present dispensation and its renewal." It led to an official government ban on The Weekly Mail.

Bauer's work has been included in a number of collections of South African cartoons and can be found in the National Gallery. He produced a book showcasing his best works from 1985 to 1987, called 'SA Flambé and other Recipes for Disaster'. The copy for this book was written by Bauer's wife, Susan de Villiers. The first exposition of Derek Bauer's work was held at Heritage Square in May 1991. Several others followed. The artist died in a car accident in December 2001.

Klaas and Kees from Lambiek, by Derek Bauer
Klaas Knol and Kees Kousemaker from our Lambiek store

www.derekbauer.co.za

Series and books by Derek Bauer in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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