Mantis Man

Mantis Man, also known as Mantis, is an important work drawing on rock art iconography. In Khoisan mythology, the mantis is a sacred figure of creative force, and is deployed here by Battiss as an exemplar of creativity.

However, the mantis also presents an important paradox in its mating ritual. In it, the male mounts the much larger female, who then bites off his head and feeds on his body during her gestation.

That this mantis is also a ‘man’ anthropomorphises the creative principle, but in the mantis figure itself, the seeds of death and destruction are contained within the living creature. Battiss’s stippled brushwork makes the affinity between the work and Khoisan rock art particularly clear. 

Artwork courtesy of UNISA Art Gallery.

Artwork Info

Walter Battiss

Mantis Man


Oil on canvas

90 x 184 cm