Alan Crump – 1983
Oil on canvas – 60 x 75cm
Collection of the Students Representative Council (SRC) University of the Witwatersrand, Johannessburg
Satirical portrait of a tyrannical art professor and Head of the Art School at the University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg. He was at best an ungracious pompous academic, but was also a sadistic and malicious bully.
Obituary 1949 – 2009
The newly appointed young (31) professor Alan Crump was a predatory bully who preyed on students and staff in his relentless quest for self aggrandizement. He abused his powerful position by going out of his way to bring about the downfall of individual students (as well as pressurizing individual staff members to support him in this) to advance his own agenda.
As fourth year senior students in his first year as Professor in 1980, my then wife and I both experienced the full brunt of his ‘powernoic’ capacity to liquidate artistic aspiration. After a grueling year with devastating long term consequences, he failed both of us.
Instead of facilitating our transition from senior students to emerging and practicing artists and being supportive, he consciously and for unknown reasons, chose the opposite pathway and plotted our demise.
For me this was the precise opposite of having a mentor, the need for which is exceptionally great, especially at an art school at a (senior) developmental stage of an artist, where positive reinforcement can and should produce profound results.
He had rat cunning which was typical of Apartheid apparatchicks of the time. He facistically exploited individuals’ pre-existing fear of authority and then expediently, was later apparently perceived to support the shift to democracy.
Individuals must be held accountable for their actions. The valorization of Alan Crump’s memory and his achievements, should be tempered with the knowledge of the permanent damage he did to many individuals he chose to single out for “sonderbehandlung’ along the way.
That he may well have mellowed in later years is little compensation for his earlier victims.
20th May 2009