PAUL STOPFORTH is originally from South Africa. He emigrated to the United States twenty seven years ago where he has since lived, worked and taught in Boston, Cambridge and Provincetown. Throughout his life as an artist Paul Stopforth has created meaning using fragments of the world that reflect larger contexts within which they are found, making paintings and works on paper that continue to demonstrate a willingness to embrace disparate spaces and the objects that inhabit them. From drawings of the hands and feet of martyrs struggling for freedom and dignity in the face of South Africa’s apartheid regime, to painted fragments of landscapes within larger landscapes that embody the histories of individuals and their surrounding communities. He often makes use of 2 or 3 distinct pictorial systems, placing them in shared spaces that create luminous, dynamic and color filled paintings.
Stopforth studied at the Johannesburg School of Art and was awarded British Council Scholarship to attend the Royal College of Art in London; he and his wife Carol made the decision to leave South Africa in 1988, perhaps the bleakest year of the state of emergency period. Over the course of his career, he has held numerous one-person exhibitions both in South Africa and in the U.S.A. and has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies. Public collections holding his works include the Harvard Film Archive, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Tufts University Gallery, the National Gallery, Cape Town, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Durban Art Museum, the Pretoria Art Gallery, and University of the Witwatersrand Art Galleries. Stopforth is especially noted for an important series of drawings based on the death of the Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko. He taught in the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard for 10 years and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts College of Art & Design. Currently he works full time in his studio, teaching and speaking seasonally at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center.